The Commerce News
October 8, 2003
Live Recklessly? State Will Pick Up The Tab
Gov. Sonny Perdue wants to repeal Georgia's law requiring motorcycle
riders to wear helmets. A matter of personal freedom, I suppose.
Responsible adults are prudent. They wear seat belts in their
cars, wear helmets when they ride motorcycles and do not engage
in activities that endanger themselves and others. They take
what steps they can to protect themselves, if only for the benefit
of their loved ones. Perdue believes, as do many others, that
the state should not mandate prudent behavior; I am inclined
But with a caveat. Let those motorcyclists who ride without helmets
notify in writing their health and life insurance companies and
let them sign a waiver relieving the state of any obligation
to provide medical care (Medicaid) when they turn up with a brain
injury requiring extensive hospitalization.
The personal behavior of motorcycle riders becomes the state's
business when the state stands to have to pay the bills. Otherwise,
what happens when a motorcycle wrecks is none of government's
This logic can be expanded. Anyone who takes up smoking, for
example, increases the likelihood of health problems tremendously
and the state and federal governments get stuck with the bill
for many a smoker's bad habit. And for our poor eating habits,
carelessness with or addiction to alcohol, etc. If all citizens
exercised prudence in their eating, drinking, driving and other
habits, there would be no Medicaid or Medicare funding crises.
By comparison, the state's cost for helmetless motorcycle riders
Americans want government to stay out of their business, but
not completely. We want the freedom to live as we choose
but when things fall apart, we expect the state to be there to
pick up the pieces. Hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental
institutions are full of people whose personal irresponsibility
maybe for an instance or for a lifetime put them
there, and the taxpayers are footing the bill.
I decided to wear a seat belt after my first child was born,
when it occurred to me that as a father my duty was to do whatever
I could to improve the odds of survival in the event of a wreck.
Later, seat belt use became a law, but there is still debate
over whether the loss of that freedom is too high a price to
pay for the lives saved and injuries reduced.
Healthcare is in a crisis, and one of the reasons is because
state and federal governments pay for healthcare for the poor
and elderly and assume responsibility when the cost of treatment
soars beyond the ability of the rest to pay. Thus, our lifestyle
choices arguably are the business of government, scary as that
We know how to live responsibly, but most of us eat too much
of the wrong foods, fail to get enough exercise and drive too
fast and have other habits we know have health repercussions.
We'd throw out of office anyone foolish enough to try to regulate
that behavior, because how we conduct our lives is nobody's business
but our own.
We have decided that as a nation we'd rather pay the bill than
curtail personal freedom. We can all ride through life without
helmets, knowing the taxpayers will take care of us.
The Commerce News
October 8, 2003
Playing Fast And Loose With
Mac Barber's back to his old tricks again.
The 86-year-old would-be mayor of Commerce is not registered
to vote in Commerce, which in the eyes of election superintendent
Shirley Willis means he cannot legally seek election as mayor.
Exactly where Barber lives is apparently rather fluid. A year
ago, Barber swore he lived at 181 Trout Lane, an address in Banks
County convenient to qualifying to run against Lauren "Bubba"
McDonald for the Public Service Commission. In an administrative
hearing, the state ruled that Barber did not live at the Banks
Now Barber says he lives at 325 Shankle Road, Commerce, which
is helpful if one seeks to be elected to office in Commerce.
Unfortunately, after failing to convince the Secretary of State's
office that he was a resident of Banks County, Barber forgot
to change his voter registration as he set his sights on the
Commerce mayor's office.
At one time Barber may have been an effective public servant,
but that day is long gone. His two most recent attempts to get
back into office demonstrate that he does not take seriously
the laws governing qualifications to run for office. It is not
likely that the voters of Commerce would turn back the clock
to the day when Barber led the city to the brink of bankruptcy,
but it would be good to be spared that possibility.
That decision will be made by the city attorney and is subject
to the appeals process. Maybe Barber can find a technicality
to allow him to stay on the ballot, but voters who recall the
2002 attempt to claim residency in Banks County will recognize
that this is a last-gasp effort by an aging politician to once
again have the power of public office. Many of those will also
recall the debacle of Barber's lone term as mayor of Commerce
in the late 1980s. A reprise of that is inconceivable.
The Jackson Herald
October 8, 2003
Nothing wrong with a public reminder
Adultery, murder, lying, stealing...
These are things that most everyone would agree are bad things.
They are things that can send you to jail, make you an outcast
and leave you with no friends. And who likes hearing the Lord's
name taken in vain. Dinner-table conversation certainly shouldn't
include that ugly curse word.
The Ten Commandments, or the "laws of the Bible," are
rules that would improve the lives of most anyone who abides
by them. The Commandments listed above are ones that everyone,
regardless of their religious background, should follow. The
world would be a better place if there were no murders or stealing
or lying or other "bad things."
Hanging the Ten Commandments will not stop every murder. It will
not stop every thief or adulterer. But it might remind a few
people of how to live their lives. If someone doesn't believe
in the commandments or support them, they don't have to look
at them. Just pass them by. There are more important things to
protest in this world than what is hanging on the wall. I see
many establishments and things that I don't agree with or like.
I just pass them by.
I'm glad several counties in this area have posted the Ten Commandments
in a public place. It made me start thinking about the Commandments.
I could only think of nine. For some reason, I couldn't remember
"thy shalt not make unto thee any graven image." Passing
by the Commandments as I go to meetings in our county will help
me and others remember all 10 of the Commandments.
No one lives a life without sin and most everyone has been guilty
of violating one of the Commandments. While murder is not very
common in this area, how many can say they have never lied or
never "coveted" or wanted something their neighbor
While we may have done these things, we shouldn't. Maybe having
the display so prominent will give some people a daily reminder
of how to live their lives.
Some politicians may be pushing the Ten Commandment display for
the wrong reasons. I don't know. I just know that I'm glad of
the end result, which is a public reminder of how to live.
This reminder is needed now more than ever before. Evil and sin
are everywhere from the nightly news to the school yards. Morals
are sadly a thing of the past. Divorce is more common than marriage.
The few people who have morals are laughed at and called "old-fashioned."
I'm proud to be "old-fashioned" and thank my mother
for instilling the importance of the Ten Commandments in my life
from an early age.
I read a recent article about the Ten Commandments by columnist
Lyle E. Brenna. He summed up my feelings perfectly.
"The Ten Commandments provide a foundation for a moral code
that served mankind well for thousands of years, and they have
not become outdated. In fact, they are as basic to the health
of our society as food and water are to our physical health."
Let's all reflect on the Commandments every day and strive to
live better. It really will make the world a better place. At
least seven of the Commandments are rules everyone should live
by, regardless of whether they call themselves Christians.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County
News and associate editor of The Jackson Herald. She can be reached
at AngieEditor@aol.com or 367-2490.
The Jackson Herald
October 8, 2003
Man of many hats served county
Volunteer firefighter, civil defense director,
coroner, EMS director, city council member and fire chief.
These are just a few of the many hats Doug Waters wore during
his 36 years of service to Jefferson and Jackson County.
Waters retired Oct. 1 after more than three decades, but the
impact of his service will be felt throughout the community for
decades to come.
Two of the most prominent displays of his work can be seen in
Jefferson. The two fire stations reflect the pride and hard work
that Waters and other fire officials poured into the project.
Waters spearheaded the effort and future generations will benefit
from his leadership.
During his tenure with the fire department, other improvements
were made that advanced fire protection for the town. The ISO
rating was lowered and the response time decreased. This led
to the department to being recognized as one of the state's leading
Waters also led the effort to bring 911 to Jackson County. He
wrote the grants to get the county's 911 system implemented and
was director of EMS when 911 went on line. It was a lengthy process
but he never backed down from the red tape, paperwork and politics
involved in such an endeavor. Everyone who has an emergency and
dials 9-1-1, can thank Waters for leading the effort to bring
this service to the county.
Even though he is retired, the community will likely continue
to benefit from Waters' efforts. He plans to continue to represent
Jefferson on the construction of a county fire burn building
and on a homeland security building for the city.