Madison County Opinion...

MARCH 31, 2004

By Frank Gillispie
The Madison County Journal
March 31, 2004

Frankly Speaking

Supporting the primary cause for which the Confederate States of America was formed
“I feel a sense of pride in the history and heroic deeds accomplished by my forebears, and shall endeavor to so live that my State will be proud of me for doing my bit to make my State a better Commonwealth for future generations.” — The Georgia Creed
I am one who continues to support the primary cause for which the Confederate States of America was formed, the sovereignty of the states. You will frequently see that idea expressed as “states’ rights.”
It is the right and the responsibility of state governments to provide internal governance to their citizens. When “We the People” assign certain of our rights to government in order to protect all other rights, it is to the states that we grant that power.
It is the state governments that provide for our day to day safety, to care for our indigent when no family is available to do so, to build roads and bridges so that we can conduct our daily business.
Citizens of each state have the right to establish a government that best suits the personality of that state, and to choose emblems that represent that personality. Every state has a state song, a state bird, flower, insect, and so forth.
This is why the right of the citizens to choose a flag is so important. The state flag is the most visible, and the most expressive symbol of the personality of our state. Of all the official state emblems, the flag most represents the people over which it flies.
The distinctive state flag proclaims the right of the state to be recognized as a sovereign entity. It represents the proper efforts by a state’s citizens to retain those rights not specifically granted to the federal government as clearly required by the 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, rights being taken away by every session of the federal legislature.
Here in Georgia we have been involved in a lengthy battle over the state flag: A battle that will continue, because the recent referendum was clearly fixed and did not give the people a chance to express their true feelings.
Much has been said about the various flags that have flown over our state recently, but a couple of things have been left out of the debate. Did you know that all past flags can still legally be flown in Georgia? That is made clear by the Georgia Code.
“Nothing in this article shall be construed to prevent the use of the flag of the United States or any flag, standard, color, shield, ensign, or other insignia of the State of Georgia or of the Confederate States of America for decorative or patriotic purposes, either inside or outside of any residence, store, place of business, public building, or school building.”
GA Code 50-3-10. If the Madison County Board of Commissioners were to decide to fly the ’56 flag at the county complex, this provision of the state code of law allows it. That, or any other of the several state flags, can be flown by civic groups, at cemeteries, in public parks or anywhere else citizens may want to fly it.
Did you know that the same code section established a pledge of allegiance to the Georgia flag?
50-3-2. “The following is adopted as the pledge of allegiance to the state flag: ‘I pledge allegiance to the Georgia flag and to the principles for which it stands: Wisdom, Justice, and Moderation.’”
50-3-3. “ The state flag shall be displayed on appropriate occasions in the public and private schools of this state and in all patriotic meetings, and the citizens of the state are requested to take the pledge of allegiance set out in Code Section 50-3-2.”
Thus, any time the U.S. Flag is presented and the Pledge of allegiance given, it is also proper that the Georgia Flag also be flown and receive the state pledge.
Finally, here is the complete state creed, a portion of which I used to open this column: State Creed “Accepting, as I do, the principles upon which Georgia was founded, not for self but others; — its Democratic form of Government, based on ‘Wisdom, Justice and Moderation’; — its natural resources; — its Educational, Social and Religious advantages, making it a most desirable place to live — I will strive to be a pure upright Citizen, rejecting the evils — loving and emulating the good. I further believe it is my duty to defend it against all enemies, to honor and obey its laws, to apply the Golden Rule in all my dealings with my fellow citizens.
I feel a sense of pride in the history and heroic deeds accomplished by my forebears, and shall endeavor to so live that my state will be proud of me for doing my bit to make my state a better Commonwealth for future generations.”
Approved March 4, 1939: I am proud to be an American. I am equally proud to be a Georgian. I take the preservation of our symbols and icons seriously.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is

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By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
March 31, 2004

In The M eantime

Vigilance over contamination should accompany deal
With $1 million to spend soon on water expansion, talking about the contamination that led to those dollars for the county has become a non-issue and an obvious nuisance for some.
Now, we can agree that approximately $947,000 in funds for water services will help this county much more than the absence of that money. That’s a no-brainer.
But let’s call that money the “A” part of the deal. It’s pretty, it’s positive. We all like money. We could do lots of things with nearly a million dollars. I could, you could.
So can a small government.
Colonial Pipeline has offered nearly $1 million to install a water line to the Colbert Grove Church Road area, where petroleum spills have contaminated deep well drinking water.
The industrial authority should take that money.
But the county government — whether it’s the industrial authority or the county commissioners — needs to adopt a certain attitude of self reliance concerning the “B” side of the deal, the existing contamination.
Taking the money and looking at water expansion shouldn’t come with a divorce from the fundamental issue that accompanies the money, which is the contamination under our feet.
Because we are lying to ourselves when we say the state or federal government will make sure everything is just fine for this county regarding the existing contamination.
Remember, we reported weeks back that the state government had 539 sites on its “Hazardous Site Index” for 2003. Oddly, the Colonial spill zone near Danielsville is not among them, despite the fact that the spills led to residents being forced to sell their homes. As a matter of fact, the EPD doesn’t even require that petroleum spills be reported.
If we leave the matter to the federal government, consider this: are federal regulators going to take much interest in a contaminant zone in a small Georgia county that doesn’t even crack the top 539 in the state EPD’s hazardous site list?
When we take comfort in state and federal regulators keeping us safe, we sometimes fail to recognize that both state and federal governments essentially rely on companies to police themselves on environmental matters.
So let’s consider that process. Colonial says it hasn’t spilled any petroleum in Madison County since 1979, but the company says it didn’t discover any benzene, which can cause leukemia, in residential wells in the area until 1995, over 15 years after the last reported spill.
So, in effect, major environmental issues which could significantly affect public health may not be evident until years after an accident, if ever at all.
So why not do what we can to monitor the perimeter of the existing contaminant zone ourselves?
According to the county extension office, tests for benzene in well water cost $76. Why not periodically — perhaps twice a year — pay for the county extension office to test existing drilled residential wells outside of Colonial’s mapped contaminant zone? The county could plot a testing circle around the contaminant zone. Most homeowners, if asked, would probably appreciate a free benzene test if they are even remotely close to a contaminated area.
If there is a spread of benzene contamination, such tests may show it. It would cost $1,520 a year to do 20 tests. Some would view that as a waste of money, but it could be a good insurance investment, while helping residents maintain faith that the contaminant zone is under control.
Also, why not request all Colonial test well results regarding the contaminant zone be submitted to the county? Why not make that part of any agreement? It’s certainly reasonable, considering that the contaminated area is in our county.
Perhaps these suggested methods for monitoring are faulty; perhaps other methods would work better.
But the attitude of looking out for ourselves — I know that’s right.
Think about it, will the petroleum pipeline company, regulated essentially by itself, not feel more compelled to closely monitor the contaminant zone in Madison County if it knows we are vigilant in watching them?
Those skeptical of the county adopting a self-reliant approach to monitoring the contaminant zone warn that any action to oversee the polluted area will open the county to liability for the contaminated land. They argue that the county may, in fact, face litigation for adopting such responsibilities.
Of course, if such a suit every came, that would be an odd headline, perhaps worthy of widespread attention: “County sued for testing water for cancer-causing element.”
In the end, this county can take the deal with Colonial and try to use the money wisely to improve its water services.
The industrial authority is right to do that.
But it would be wrong to dismiss any notion of a “B” side of the deal with an easy wave of the hand. Making sure that spilled contaminants in this county are contained as best as possible is something we can take an active role in. We don’t have to be entirely passive.
Or do you prefer that this county simply trust the EPD, the EPA or Colonial when it comes to monitoring the underground contaminants that exist south of Danielsville, to simply act as if there is no “B” side of the matter, that the only thing they should concern themselves with is how they should spend Colonial’s money?
We need more than blind faith in bureaucracy and big business.
We need local vigilance and self-reliance.
Most of all, we don’t need to be afraid to look out for ourselves.
Because no one else is really going to do that for us.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.
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