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Letters to the Editor
The Madison County Journal
June 30, 1999
Seeks investigation of Republican meeting
Dear editor:
As a Republican voter residing in Madison County, I request that the Georgia Republican Party conduct an investigation of the executive officers of the Madison County Republican party. They are making us a laughing stock and may be guilty of breaking some county and/or state laws.
By now, history should have taught us that attacking a politician is not the way to improve GOP public relations. Some of our GOP executive officers have been involved in attacks on two ore more Democrats, resulting in their resignation from office. That may not sound too bad, but they are also attacking one of our GOP commissioners, making us look like the bumblers of the "Apple Dumpling Gang." If these attacks continue, I predict, we will lose more GOP voters in the future.
There is reason to suspect the motives for these attacks are to help office holders who are not Republicans. In other words, someone is "sleeping with the Democrats." I considered changing parties, but I believe the persons behind the dirty politics in Madison County control both parties in Madison County. They are so powerful they even have some control over what is printed in the Athens papers.
The first incident that really caught my attention happened several years ago when Mr. John Scoggins ran against Mr. Louie Clark for the office of state representative. An article appeared in the papers that some cattle that belonged to John Scoggins had been killed. The tone of the article made it seem like Louie Clark and/or his backers were responsible for killing the cattle. I got angry about it, but a law officer told me the story was a lie, and no cattle had been killed, not even lost. There is reason to believe that the person behind this controls both political parties in Madison County.
More recently, the Madison County Board of Commissioners were accused of violating the Georgia laws against closed meetings. Every one of the commissioners were involved in a closed meeting, not two, three or four, but all of them. I repeat, all six commissioners were involved in the illegal meeting. Recall efforts have been brought against three of them. Two resigned rather than be recalled. The other, Mrs. Patsy Pierce, seems to be fighting back.
The question remains, why were no recall efforts made against the other three commissioners? The answer to this question is also the answer to who is behind the dirty politics in Madison County.
A few days ago, I attended a meeting at the Madison County Government Building which houses most of the government offices in this county. I understood the meeting was a Republican meeting for the purpose of trying to oust Patsy Pierce from the Republican party. I am a Republican voter, so I thought I had the right to be there.
The door to the building was unlocked by Jerry Mattox, who is vice-chairman of the Madison County GOP. As the people began to enter, Mattox told them it was a closed meeting and not open to the public. Several people protested, saying it is illegal to hold a private meeting in a public building. Jerry Mattox made the statement that just because a person voted Republican, that did not mean he could attend the meeting. The meeting, he said, was open only to those who were invited. A few minutes later, he announced the meeting was postponed.
Jerry Mattox was asked how he got the key to the building, and who gave him the authority to open the building. I did not hear his answer, but I was told he said he got the key from commissioner Wesley Nash. (Mr. Nash is a Democrat.) [see Editor's note] Mrs. Patsy Pierce made the statement, "I'm a county commissioner, and I don't have a key. I can't understand how a private citizen can have the authority to unlock a public government building."
I have questions of my own. Jerry Mattox is vice-chairman of the Madison County Republican Party. He has led the attack to oust three of the commissioners who were involved in illegal meetings. Why did he only attack three commissioners when all six were involved? He got a key to enter the government building which is a public building. The key came from a Democratic commissioner. He is attacking Mrs. Patsy Pierce, a Republican, for attending an illegal meeting, but he got the key from a Democratic commissioner who was also involved in the same illegal meeting. Is this not called "sleeping with the Democrats?"
To me, this is an example of "bumbling." If the state GOP cannot or will not step in and do something, our local Republican Party is in serious trouble. If you can do something, please investigate this situation.
George W. Boutwell
Editor's note: BOC chairman Wesley Nash is a Republican, not a Democrat as Mr. Boutwell states.

Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
June 30, 1999

How I broke my face (well, almost)
"No, I didn't have a wreck"; "Ha, ha, no, I didn't put my face into a wall" and "NO, my husband did not tell me to be quiet one too many times," and on and on and on.
Like Zach Mitcham, who has a broken arm, I too have been answering a lot of questions and doing a lot of explaining about my appearance this past week. I am currently - although I hope by now not so obviously - the bearer of what some would call a "shiner," a black eye, along with several other abrasions, contusions and assorted scratches.
How did I do it - well, you see, there was this picnic. My husband Charles and I took his aunt and uncle who were visiting us last week from out of state to visit the town of Helen and afterward decided to have a picnic lunch.
Charles tripped on curbing around the picnic pavilion we chose to have our lunch at while he was unloading the car, but thought no more of it. After a peaceful and enjoyable lunch, I was returning from the restroom when I tripped on the very same curbing. Unfortunately, I stopped my fall with my face. Not very smart, you say, and I couldn't agree more, but I assure you I didn't do it on purpose.
All I remember is falling, arms flailing, and thinking in my mind - "oh no, oh no, oh no..." until I felt my head bounce like a basketball off the concrete floor (the bouncing was apparently halted by the picnic table I landed under). Glasses flying, I recovered enough to grab my head - to find one of my hands smeared with blood.
By this time, Charles and his startled relatives were making a beeline for me - their pleasant afternoon - and mine, ruined.
Luckily, I didn't lose consciousness and felt more pain from skinned-up knees than from my head. In fact, despite a large growing knot and a cut that kept bleeding, everyone kept saying all I seemed worried about was my glasses. (For any of you that depend on them like I do, I know you can sympathize, because to be without them is truly a scary proposition.)
Charles called a park ranger to report the incident and the dangerous curbing, while numerous people walked by me as I sat holding my bleeding and continually swelling head.
Some were sympathetic, including one young man whom I will never forget, who came over with his companion, placed his hand on my shoulder and said very gently, "I'm so sorry." At that point, having still not taken a look at my face, I almost began to sob. "How bad must it be?" I thought. "Will I be disfigured for life?" My fingers told me I had a huge "goose egg" forming over my right eye and that I was still bleeding from a couple of places.
Other passers-by came by to offer help and a few just stared. I remember seeing one fellow just shaking his head. I could just read his thoughts: "A little too much to drink on your picnic - hey, sister?"
I'm sure this image was encouraged by the fact that by that time our Uncle John had me laughing about the whole thing - including offering me the large bald spot on the top of his head to view my injuries.
Happily, a trip to the doctor reassured my shook-up husband that I was not about to check out, but simply had surface injuries - I had already told him I had a hard head.
But as the doctor gave me instructions about cold and hot packs and antibiotic cream, he warned me that I could probably expect a black eye.
"But my eye isn't injured," I protested. He placed a gentle finger on the ominous swelling under my right eyebrow. "That blood under the skin will have to drain somewhere and that will most likely be around the soft tissue of your eye."
"How long?" I said, stricken.
"Oh, a few weeks... but you'll begin to look better in a week to 10 days," he hastened to say after seeing the look on my face.
My forehead is healing up pretty well now. The swelling, abrasion and bruising are almost all gone and the knees are better too - but the eye, well that's a different story; it seems determined to turn every color of the rainbow. Right now it's kind of a purplish, yellowish sickly green.
My daughter summed it all up tonight by saying, "It looks like someone just hauled off and socked you in the eye one good time."
Well, I suppose it could happen, who said journalism isn't a dangerous job?
Margie Richards is a reporter and office manager for the Madison County Journal.

Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
June 30, 1999

You must remember the true meaning of July 4
Thousands of people will fill the small Madison County city of Colbert on Saturday, July 3, as part of the 4th of July weekend celebration. Others will attend parades, cookouts and fireworks displays around the nation. On Public Television, you will be able to watch a massive patriotic concert from Washington, D.C.
But I wonder how many of you, especially the younger Americans, know what the celebration is about. How many of you understand the significance of a free and independent people who live under a government established by their will. Especially, how many of you realize the danger to the lives and fortunes of the heroes who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
The American colonies were the property of the King of England prior to the Declaration of Independence and the subsequent Revolutionary War. By signing the Declaration, those brave men identified themselves to the British government as rebels. In England, they were considered traitors, and were subject to immediate execution if captured. When those men signed that document, they knew that they were possibly signing their own death warrants.
Three patriots from Georgia signed the Declaration. They were Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall and George Walton. We remember their names today because three nearby counties were named for them. How many residents of Gainesville and Hall County know that their home town was named in honor of a signer of the Declaration of Independence? Do the residents of Walton and Gwinnett counties realize the significance of their county names?
Over the past several days, I have asked a number of people what the 4th of July celebration represents. Most have some vague idea that it is a celebration of freedom. Few remember, and some never learned, about the Declaration of Independence, its importance and the heroic nature of its signers. That is a sad commentary on the current educational level of Americans.
I hope that somewhere in the days leading up to the greatest of American holidays, Independence Day, each of you will go to your encyclopedia, or that old history book you saved from college, and read the events surrounding the Declaration of Independence. Get to know more about the Georgians who signed it, and make the Declaration and its signers the center of the holiday.
Our freedoms were won by those brave men who wrote, signed and fought to defend the Declaration of Independence. If we forget their sacrifices, and take those freedoms for granted, we have a real chance of losing them.
Frank Gillispie is the founder of The Madison County Journal.
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