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 OPINION PAGE - JUNE 30, 1999 - COMMERCE, GEORGIA



Editorials
The Commerce News
June 30, 1999

Abuse Of Freedoms May
Lead To Restrictions

It is customary on and around the celebration of Independence Day to wax nostalgic about the sacrifices of the men and women who helped America gain and retain its independence and about the freedom we enjoy because of their efforts. But having existed with unparalleled freedom for 220-plus years, perhaps America should reconsider just what that freedom means.
So accustomed are Americans to freedoms that not only are they taken for granted, but they are also taken to extremes. The freedoms of speech and press and the (somewhat debated) right to bear arms are being taken to such extremes that it is likely the day will come when the public will demand that those rights be curtailed.
Freedoms abused will be freedoms diminished. The plethora of sexually explicit web sites on the Internet, nude dancing and worse under the guise of freedom of expression, the sale of automatic weapons and even grenades and rocket launchers, and periodicals and web sites promoting hatred all fall under constitutional protection at present. It is inevitable that if they continue to multiply, people will demand that the government act. And the only way the abuses of our freedoms can be stopped is by amending the Constitution.
That poses the gravest danger to our freedoms.
If the founding fathers had been able to envision the extreme liberties taken with our constitutional freedoms, they would have made the Constitution less vague and severely limited some of those rights. When the time comes and public sentiment results in amendments to the Constitution or, worse yet, a constitutional convention, rights now protected will be lost.
Perhaps that is just evolution in a democratic society, but on Independence Day we should consider that the rights we so cherish could one day be taken away in reaction to those who abuse them. Just as defending our country against foreign enemies requires constant vigilance, so we must be eternally protective of our constitutional rights so when our great-great-grandchildren celebrate Independence Day in 100 years they will have just as much to celebrate.



Column
Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
June 30, 1999

Concert Was
Great; But It
Can Be Better

The third Bill Anderson concert was the best yet, both from the size of the crowd to the quality of the artists. Understand now, that country music isn't my thing, but I've become a big Bill Anderson fan because of what he's doing for this community.
Here's a guy who has made it big and he donates a night a year to helping Commerce build a much-needed performing arts center, bringing major talent with him.
Steve Wariner is a top-drawer country music act. Anyone who begrudged the $5 to hear him is an idiot. That he would spend a night in Commerce when he could have played on any stage in North America shows the kind of clout Anderson has in Nashville ­ and says good things about Wariner.
But there are some things that can be done, must be done, for the sake of this event. Here are some suggestions:
·The football stands were far too dark. With so many elderly people walking up and down the steps, it is a miracle no one fell and got hurt. Not only do we need to prevent the injury, but neither the school system nor the Commerce Business Association wants to see a lawsuit. Lighting is an absolute necessity.
·Make the event shorter. The number of acts Anderson brings will be the defining factor, but with four Nashville acts and two local sets, something should be curtailed so the concert time will be reasonable. Six and a half hours, with no air conditioning and limited restroom facilities, is too long.
·Eliminate the fireworks. There is no longer a connection with an Independence Day celebration and fireworks at 12:30 in the morning disturb the rest of Commerce. Move the fireworks to July 4.
·Start on time. This would also help shorten the event. In three years, the concert has not started within 40 minutes of the time it was scheduled to begin. A lot of the people who arrived at 6:00 expecting music to start at 6:30 got up and left before or during Steve Wariner's set. Maybe they came just to see Anderson, but maybe it was just getting too late.
·Given the number of handicapped people, most of them elderly, more handicapped parking must be provided. I helped park cars, and had to tell several elderly people who asked about handicapped parking that it was full. They had to walk in from beyond the tennis courts.
·The stadium needs better rest-room facilities - at least for women. The line to the bathroom was 50 people long at times. Too long.
·If there is any hope for the concert growing, we're going to have to find more parking. If the fireworks are eliminated, more parking will be available by the elementary school, and when the renovation of CHS is finished, there will be more room in the back parking lot. Still, there is not sufficient parking for a crowd of 10,000.
These problems are solvable. Anderson is providing the talent. WJJC and the Commerce Business Association are providing the labor to pull it off, and the concert is growing. You don't have to be a country music fan to appreciate what Bill Anderson is doing for Commerce or to have a good time at the City Lights Concert.

Letter to the Editor
The Commerce News
June 30, 1999
 
Group Has Concerns About New Policy
Editor:
Recently, you ran an article concerning the Commerce Board of Education and their development of "Extracurricular Policy." The article appeared to allude that the new policy would cover field trips and outside school hours activities. In reality the draft policy is athletic policy.
Over the past few months many parents have talked to me concerning athletics at Commerce High School. When investigated, it was found that even though athletics are a large part of high school life there were no board of education policies concerning athletics. This year as problems were brought to the board the excuse was used that they had no authority because of their oversight to have a policy.
It is now time for public comment on the extracurricular policy/athletic policy descriptor code JCDAH. The board of education will vote on the policy they submitted into record at their June meeting. After speaking to the chairman of the board the public will not be afforded the opportunity to have a public hearing before the vote on this policy. The public has between now and July 12 to let the board members know their feelings by talking to the members of the board or submitting responses in to the board in writing.
After researching this policy, a group of parents believe that there are problems with the policy due to:
·the development without student or parent input, which is addressed by the school accreditation association (SACS)
·lack of a formal public hearing
·conflict apparent in policy by different rules applied by the State Board of Education, Commerce Board of Education and The Georgia Athletic Association
·apparent lack of preparation by members being unaware of requirements of groups noted in the policy written by the board
·time of year chosen to present these policies to the public
Citizens United for Education (CUE) will hold an informal meeting July 1, 1999, at 7:00 p.m. at the Henderson Academy on the proposed extracurricular/athletic policy.
If you would like a copy of the proposed policy, a copy of the first draft presented by the coaches or are interested or concerned, please call me at 335-7043 or 336-8218. Now is the time to make changes; after July 12, it will be too late.
Sincerely,
Gloria Henderson
Commerce, GA

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