Jackson County Opinions...

JANUARY 14, 2004



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
January 14, 2004

Doesn’t Everyone Around Here Grow Pineapples?
In retrospect, it might have been a mistake to think I could grow pineapples in north Georgia.
But there they sit in my office window, three potted pineapple plants, gifts from my sister Laurel when I was in Florida for Thanksgiving. Though I am one of the better dandelion gardeners in my neighborhood, I am over my head when it comes to growing tropical fruit.
If I am not mistaken, Laurel grew her first ones by planting the crown from a grocery-store pineapple (if I am mistaken, sue me). These are the third or fourth generation down from that successful experiment. It’s just the sort of thing you’d expect a Master Gardener to do.
“Just put them where they won’t freeze and don’t over-water them,” she advised.
At nearly three feet in diameter and two and a half tall, pineapple plants do not fit on window sills. They require much more space. I put them in a vacant bedroom, where they commenced to dying from, I guess, a lack of light or shock at the unfriendly environs. The tips of the leaves turned brown, then the dead zone advanced down toward the base, so I transferred them to my storefront window at the office where in a southern exposure they get a little sunlight and attract derision as the ugliest “houseplants” in the downtown.
It is too early to tell if they’ll survive, let alone produce the prickly but sweet fruit my sister harvests 500 miles to the south. If Pete Rose were around, he’d take death and the points, but at the moment I can see sunlight on the plants, I maintain some hope that they will prosper and give the locals reason to be amazed at my horticultural gifts.
Laurel spends a good part of her retirement hours in her neatly-organized garden, producing copious quantities of all things edible. She is also a prolific collector of items other people should be interested in reading, which she sends north to me in big manila envelopes along with leftover seeds or seeds from plants she thinks I might have luck in growing. She ships boxes of oranges from the trees in her yard, in return for which I send (when they’re available) pecans stolen from trees I do not own.
While it is the dead of winter here, it is prime growing season in central Florida, which makes me envious. But when the tomatoes and basil start coming in here in July, her garden will have long ago succumbed to the Florida summer.
To be truthful, I don’t even like to eat pineapple all that much, but these tropical plants appeal to my gardening sense of the absurd. If they prosper enough to bear fruit, I’ll be perhaps the only Jackson County gardener to grow such fruit, and once the last frost has passed, they will add an exotic touch to my mundane collection of potted petunias, impatiens and zinnias on the back patio at home.
Laurel’s the expert; I just piddle around with gardening, happy if the tomatoes produce before succumbing to the wilt. If she thinks I can grow a pineapple in Commerce, I’m game to try it.
“Why, those are pineapples,” I’ll explain to my guests’ quizzical looks. “You mean to say you’ve never grown a pineapple? Sheesh!”


Editorial
The Commerce News
January 14, 2004

County Best Served By Martin’s Reappointment
The Jackson County Board of Commissioners appears to be standing on the verge of making yet another decision based on politics as opposed to public good.
This time, the board is intent on replacing Scott Martin, chairman of its Industrial Development Authority, with someone more likely to kow-tow to the BOC’s every desire. Martin’s term has expired and the board has the authority to replace him with whomever it chooses, but the indications are that – imagine this in an election year – the decision will be made based on politics. Twice now the board of commissioners has tabled action on filling the position Martin now holds.
Harold Fletcher, BOC chairman, and Sammy Thomason reportedly want to replace Martin with Commerce City Councilman Bob Sosebee. This would go a long way, they believe, toward alleviating the long-time Commerce belief that the economic development playing field is tilted against Commerce. That paranoia is ingrained in the city government, which is desperate to attract major industry to offset a growing imbalance in its tax digest and has watched prospect after prospect locate in West Jackson or Jefferson.
Sosebee would be a capable IDA member and could represent Commerce well. He is knowledgeable about financial matters and real estate, knows the infrastructure capabilities of Commerce and has many statewide contacts. He is an unabashed advocate for Commerce. On the negative side, however, Sosebee’s appointment could greatly damage the relationship between the IDA and the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, a relationship necessary to successful economic development activities. Sosebee is not shy about expressing disdain for the chamber’s efforts, and of its president Pepe Cummings in particular. His appointment might well be perceived as a board of commissioners’ attempt to give Commerce the inside track with potential business or industry. Sosebee would be viewed, perhaps not unjustly, as coming to the IDA with one agenda: to get business for Commerce.
Martin has contributed so much to the county’s economic development effort that it would be a travesty to replace him. From his leadership in creating the Developers’ Days tours exposing statewide economic developers to Jackson County to his pivotal roles in locating Havertys and Toyota here, Martin has proven himself a tremendous asset to this county, someone who cannot be easily replaced. Martin is also a Commerce resident and desires to see Commerce develop the industry it needs, but he is recognized as someone who understands that his responsibility is to the entire county, not just the corporate limits of his hometown.
If the board of commissioners truly wants to put forth the best effort in attracting new business and industry, it should stick with Martin, whose record speaks for itself.

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Column
By Kerri Testament
The Jackson Herald
January 14, 2004

Crime in the country
There are a few things suburbanites believe when they move out to the country.
Like, growth isn’t an issue (yeah, right), traffic never happens (reference first sarcastic response) and crime just doesn’t occur (read our crime pages).
But if you really believe the last assumption, then you’ll need a wake-up call.
Like it or not, crime is rising in Jackson County.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department reports there were 163 cases of burglary in homes by way of forced entry last year. In 1999, there were 97 such cases reported.
Drug offenses have increased 60 percent in four years from 93 offenses in 1999 to 149 in 2003 (largely due to the rise in popularity of synthetic drugs among criminals).
Jackson County Sheriff Stan Evans recently asked county commissioners for additional law enforcement personnel to handle the greater workload. He got his request, but it took three years of begging before he got the right response.
In the meantime, the county continued to feel the strain of growth stemming from metro Atlanta. And that new growth has largely brought former suburbanites who are placing too much trust in the “security” of the country life.
That’s the message one law enforcement officer told local educators during a crime prevention seminar last week.
Basically, don’t assume that moving to the country means you can “let your guard down” when it comes to keeping yourself and your family safe, Tre Lundquist of Southeast Crime Prevention said.
While crime in metro Atlanta has been decreasing in recent years, crime in the country is rising four times faster than crimes reported in the cities, he added.
And one reason for the rise in country crime is that people don’t protect their personal property, compared to their efforts when they lived in the city, Lundquist said.
Such is the case of an elderly Pendergrass man who was robbed at his home last month by scam artists.
According to law enforcement officials, two men gained entry to the man’s home while posing as Social Security workers. Once inside, one man headed to the victim’s bedroom and stole money. A similar incident happened in Franklin County just two hours before the suspects headed to Jackson County.
I suspect that if that man lived in Atlanta city limits, he may not have granted access to his home for the two suspects (but that’s my assumption).
The elderly are especially vulnerable to falling for these scams that depend on the criminals gaining trust.
Luckily, local senior citizens can turn to the Jackson County SALT/TRIAD group for advice on how not to become the next crime victim.
Law enforcement officials talk with senior citizens about crime prevention tactics and other safety measures during their meetings. The group will meet Monday, Jan. 19, at 9:30 a.m., at the Jackson EMC auditorium.
A few months ago, I attended a Jackson County SALT/TRIAD seminar and found the meeting quite informative (despite being the youngest person in the room by several years).
Besides just locking your doors and being aware of your surroundings, here are some other crime prevention tips.
•Just because the sun is shining, doesn’t mean crime won’t happen. Most crimes occur during daylight hours — so beware of your surrounding during the day, as well as at night.
•If you see a single blue flashing light on a vehicle attempting to stop you for a traffic violation, head to the nearest well-lit, well-populated area before getting out of your vehicle. “Blue light bandits” pose as police officers and then rob their victims. Real police vehicles have multiple flashing lights.
•Home invasion cases are beginning to rise in nearby areas. Don’t trust anyone knocking at your front door (even a teenager). Use an intercom system or simply don’t open your front door to strangers.
•Purchase a paper shredder to destroy documents with your personal information. Not only will criminals sift through your trash seeking personal information, they’ll also look in your mail box. Getting a post office box with a lock is also a wise investment.
Crime in the country is preventable, but it means local residents need to take a few smart steps for that to happen.
For more crime prevention tips, visit the National Crime Prevention Council (home of “McGruff the Crime Dog”), at www.ncpc.org/ncpc/ncpc.
Kerri Testement is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers, Inc. Her e-mail address is kerri@mainstreetnews.com.


Editorials
The Jackson Herald
January 14, 2004

Contact your legislators
Another legislative session is under way and the HOPE scholarship and budget woes are being tossed around the Capitol. Children’s welfare, water resources and crime are other issues that will be debated and acted upon over the next few weeks.
Our leaders need to know where we stand on these important matters. During the coming weeks, we will run articles on what our legislators are doing and what is going on in the General Assembly. We encourage our readers to respond to these issues and others they are concerned about by letting our elected officials know their feelings.
You can contact Jackson County’s legislators at the following addresses:

Rep. Chris Elrod
608 Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-0298 (phone)
(404) 463-4559 (fax)
celrod@legis.state.ga.us.

Rep. Warren Massey
612 Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-0325 (phone)
(404) 657-4868 (fax)
repmassey@aol.com

Sen. Ralph Hudgens
304B Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 463-1361 (phone)
(404) 463-1381 (fax)
ralphhudgens@aol.com

Sen. Brian Kemp
324A Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 463-1366 (phone)
(404) 657-0459 (fax)
bkemp@legis.state.ga.us

Sen. Casey Cagle
421C Legislative Office Building
Atlanta, GA 30334
(404) 656-6578 (phone)
(404) 651-6768 (fax)
kccagle@bellsouth.net


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