Madison County Opinion...

NOVEMBER 19, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
November 19, 2003

Frankly Speaking

HOPE, another example of free-ride society
I have told my readers all along that the state lottery was a mistake. Now we are finding out that we are not being well served by the programs financed by the lottery. Specifically, the HOPE Scholarship Program is in trouble.
Here is a simple fact: When you offer to give away something for free, there will always be more people asking for the gift than you have gifts to give. That is what has happened with the HOPE scholarships.
Not only has nearly every eligible student applied for the scholarships, certain teachers and school administrators have made special efforts to qualify students for the funds when they are not ready for college-level work.
I have several problems with the program.
First, it is financed by gambling tickets most, purchased by the state’s poorest people. The funds generated then go to finance college expenses for the state’s more wealthy students. This is a situation that will end once the people buying the tickets realize what they are doing.
Secondly, we are setting students up with false hopes. We are sending kids off to college with big dreams of gaining a degree and making big money.
When they find that they are not properly prepared to do college work and flunk out, they can’t help but feel less “self esteem” as a result.
Finally, the HOPE scholarship program adds to the overall dependence our society has on government to meet our needs. Dependence on the government is destroying our ability to be the free and independent nation our founders envisioned.
Look, the way you make a slave is to teach them to be dependent on the slave master. The more we become dependent on the government for our needs, the more we all become slaves of that government. Today, far too many of us depend on the government to feed our families, educate our children, take care of our medical needs, provide us with housing and protect us from our neighbors. There is hardly anything left that we are expected to do for ourselves.
Rather than encourage freedom through self-responsibility, our governments are pushing for even more programs that make us even more dependent on government bureaucrats for all our needs. To make matters worse, that dependence is being shifted from local and state governments to an all-powerful national government. Soon, we will be a totally socialist society, similar to the old Soviet Union. The fact that the USSR has collapsed under its own weight does not seem to have taught us a lesson.
What should we be doing? First, take back our individual lives. We each should be reclaiming responsibility for our own needs and the needs of our families. Next, seek out those political candidates who promise to reduce government programs and give our tax money back so that we can finance our children’s education without government strings. Getting rid of the lottery and its so called free services is a first step.
As long as we depend on the government for everything, we will be slaves of that government. If we want to be free, we have to be personally responsible.
It is easier to vote ourselves into slavery than to risk personal responsibility, and that appears to be what most of our citizens are doing.
But what of us who still love liberty? Unless enough of us act quickly, we are likely to be pulled into the new slavery system along with everyone else.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is frankgillispie@charter.net.

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
November 19, 2003

In The Meantime

Water issue highlights city’s growth dilemma
While there’s no moat circling city hall, there is definitely a barricade of sorts in the town of Danielsville.
Clearly, Danielsville’s council likes the idea of keeping growth out of the nice, small Madison County town. This is a valid sentiment. It’s sad to think of Danielsville becoming mired in congestion, which can seem a real possibility when you sit impatiently trying to take a left on Hwy. 29 as a stream of cars roll by.
In response to that congestion fear, the group has definitely taken some strong anti-growth stances over the years, proving less than receptive to development requests, even to the point of fighting the no-growth battle in court.
The council has also passed restrictions on acreage requirements on multi-family developments with the intent of keeping Danielsville from becoming an “apartment town.”
But perhaps its main tool in keeping growth at bay has been the use of water limitations as a deterrent. The council had an engineer perform water and sewage studies and he determined that the city is near its capacity in both services and that any additional users could push the town’s infrastructure into a danger zone.
So if you propose a development, the council will likely say, “We’re sorry, we just don’t have enough water to help you.”
But what if you offer to drill a well and give it to the city?
Developer Albert Sanders did just that, but the city still turned down his request for water to his proposed subdivision off Hwy. 98.
Now the school system is offering to do the same.
The school has proposed providing water for irrigation of ball fields, while the city is being asked to supply water to two concession and restroom areas — one inside the city limits, one outside. Meanwhile, the schools will provide their own septic sewage system for the complex.
The council postponed its decision earlier this month, waiting to see whether the school irrigation well will be a suitable distance from the complex’s septic system.
If the county school system can donate a well with drinkable water, then this is clearly a situation of mutual benefit, right? The city gets another well, while the school board gets enough water for its sports complex to function efficiently. Superintendent Keith Cowne said that the irrigation well would be used a lot as the fields at the complex are developed, but that such use would decrease significantly once the grass on the fields has matured.
But the council has offered a lukewarm response to the school system’s proposal.
Why? Well, there may be several reasons.
Another well could change the growth dynamics of the city. It could essentially take away the “sorry, we don’t have any water” excuse on future developments before the city.
Apart from using water limitations as a growth control measure, the council has spent considerable time in the past discussing traffic problems on Madison Street. And a new sports complex could aggravate that problem. School leaders have pointed out that there are long-range plans to reduce the number of schools on that road from three to two, by moving the middle school somewhere else in the county. Such a move would help alleviate traffic problems.
Nevertheless, such misgivings about sports complex traffic are somewhat irrelevant now, considering that county voters have already decided — through the March SPLOST vote — that the complex is coming, increased traffic or not.
Another factor to consider is the conflict between the city and schools regarding water services in recent years. The school system already provides water to the three schools — the high school, middle school and Danielsville Elementary School.
The school system discovered that the city overcharged the system by some $70,000 over several years. The two groups resolved the matter by agreeing to have the schools pay half price for water until the overpayment had been balanced.
The settlement seemed amicable enough. But it’s worth noting that the city significantly raised its rates on major water consumers — which includes the school system — shortly after the overcharge was resolved.
Should the council deny the water request, the situation could really get interesting. The county industrial authority has discussed running water from Madico Park to the schools if the city of Danielsville passes on the BOE request. If approved, such a move could certainly lead to increased development in the area in coming years.
Whatever their reason for initially hesitating — whether it’s fear of development, concern about traffic, or hard feelings over a water billing issue — the Danielsville council will likely realize that it’s in the community’s best interest for the council to accommodate the school system to provide water — the BOE and the council will meet again Tuesday to discuss the matter.
No doubt, it would prove a major mistake to create a roadblock for a voter-approved, $2 million dollar school-improvement project that will include a track, tennis courts, a soccer field, a baseball field, a marching band practice field and a cross country track.
Looking at the big picture, the city-school water issue is like a vein to the real heart of the matter.
Danielsville, like other small towns in north Georgia, faces the prospect of considerable growth in coming years. And for the most part, the city’s stance on development has been pretty clear — let’s fight it and keep it the way it is.
In doing so, the council has used its water limitations to stave off growth, but as the school system’s water request shows, this will probably not hold up as a viable excuse for turning down development in years to come as the city receives proposals for the donation of wells.
Some might say the Danielsville council has shown a good-hearted willingness to preserve the community’s character, even at the expense of being demonized by developers and those who want to see commercial growth in the county. Others might say the council is purely stubborn-hearted against growth, too caught up in not-my-backyard thinking to listen to reasonable requests from developers.
Either way, there’s a tough fact that faces leaders of Danielsville: There’s really no moat to protect the town from growth. And the barricades that any leaders set up to stop development can be broken down over time.
We can only the hope that local government will always look at the big picture, concentrating not on what walls can be built, but on what needs can actually be fulfilled through inevitable growth.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.


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