The Jackson Herald - July 14, 1999
- Remembering July 20, 1969
I found the photos
in a book that had sat in the basement for years. Molded and
musty, the book bulged from having been stuffed with envelopes
which had long ago been forgotten. Each envelope was labeled
in a child's scrawling and inside each were the fuzzy black-and-white
photos, along with magazine and newspaper clippings.
Although poor in quality, the photos record an event that is
likely to define our era for all time - the first time man walked
on the moon. That event happened 30 years ago next Tuesday, but
is as vivid in my mind as if it had happened yesterday.
The old black-and-white photos were made of our television screen
as Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took those first steps out
of their lunar lander. We even published a photo in The Herald
that week and ran a couple of articles about how local people
were, like the rest of the world, captivated by the event.
For many, the moon landing is just something in a history book.
If you're not over 35 years old, you probably don't remember
anything at all about it.
Yet the American space program, which in many ways reached its
heyday with that 1969 moon landing, had a profound influence
on an entire generation.
One of my fondest memories from kindergarten is of sitting in
the home of our teacher, Mrs. Rosemary McWhorter, and watching
several rocket launches in 1964-1965. (Back then, kindergarten
was not a part of public schools and our class met in a room
above Mrs. McWhorter's garage, next to her home in Summerville,
Ga.) All of us kids wanted to be astronauts and the space culture
infused our playtime and toys.
Actually, my personal history with space began at birth. The
Russian Sputnik took orbit in 1957, a couple of years before
I was born. When I first saw daylight one winter day, the employees
at the Rome (Ga.) News-Tribune, where my mother then worked,
did a pseudo front page with an article that "another Sputnik"
had been launched in Rome. It was a clever idea and in an ironic
way, shows just how much our culture had become focused on the
great unknown above our heads.
But the space program was more than just some science fiction
story come to life. It had national and international implications.
The launch of Sputnik scared American leaders, who had also been
working on a satellite. Over the next few years, the Russians
stayed ahead in what came to be known as the "space race."
That Cold War competition came to symbolize the competing national
interests of East and West. Beating the Russians to the moon
became a national goal and President Kennedy vowed to put an
American on the moon before the end of the 1960s.
Beyond the Cold War contest, however, the space race had a profound
effect on American education. Because of the space race, schools
began to pump up their science and math curriculums, determined
to mint a new generation of scientists and engineers. And our
culture became more focused on technology in ways that previous
generations had not been.
The recent movie, "October Sky," based on Homer Hickman's
book, "The Rocket Boys," captured a part of that era
from the perspective of several teenage boys. The movies "Apollo
13" and "The Right Stuff" also captured the intense
and heroic dimensions of those who literally put their lives
on the line to advance mankind's move into space.
But like those fuzzy photos I recently rediscovered, the memory
of July 20, 1969, is becoming a blur for some people. In my lifetime,
the last of those who walked on the moon will be gone. The third
man to accomplish that feat died last week in a motorcycle accident,
an ironic ending for someone who risked everything to go to space.
But for those of us who were children in the 1960s, the magic
of space exploration will live forever. It was a time of heroes
and of expanding frontiers, not unlike the movement West in the
late 1800s that opened up the continent.
What we were privileged to witness was a human achievement so
grand that it will not likely be surpassed for another generation.
Only when man walks on Mars, or some other planet, will his steps
on the moon begin to fade.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson
The Jackson Herald
July 14, 1999
The continuing debacle over employee pay has reached a new low
on the Jefferson City Council. A called meeting Tuesday night
dissolved into petty squabbling and accusations that were colored
with racial overtones.
Until the council gets past all those issues, it will be impossible
for it to address the real reason for Tuesday's called meeting
- to cooperate with the Crawford Long Museum board in creating
a new position that would, in effect, be a mainstreet manager
for the community.
Let's untangle this web one issue at a time:
· The issue of employee pay in the city has been one of
a long standing dispute. Some of the council, including Mayor
Byrd Bruce, apparently believe seniority with the city is more
important than job description. But that is a facetious argument.
If all jobs required equal skills and abilities and all employees
performed to the same degree, then seniority-based pay would
make sense. But not all jobs are equal, either in skill or educational
requirements. Too much emphasis is being placed in Jefferson's
pay scale on seniority and not enough on the various other issues.
It's time for that mindset to change.
· When councilwoman Marcia Moon injected race into a discussion
that had no racial content, she did both herself and the city
a disservice. In effect, she called for a de facto quota system
in the city's hiring and department heads. But race should not
be a factor in hiring - an applicant's ability to do the job
well should be the bar by which all are judged, not the color
of one's skin or ethnic background.
· Moon was also off-base in complaining that she didn't
know about earlier meetings on the museum issue. Apparently,
she forgot about those meetings. That isn't unusual. As another
councilman pointed out, she seldom attends called or committee
meetings of the council.
· Moon was correct, however, in pointing out that the
museum board had jumped the gun in agreeing to hire someone for
the new position without first taking applications for the job.
Even if the board had a strong candidate in mind, it should have
gone through the process of soliciting applications. Any position
that is to be funded even in part by public money should be handled
carefully and according to professional standards.
· The city council should do away with its practice of
putting councilmen over individual departments. Some council
members have begun to take those positions too seriously. City
department heads answer to the full council, not individual council
members. The current system may have worked 20 years ago, but
it is far outdated today. If the city's business is so great
that it requires that much hands-on by the council, then it's
time for the city to hire a city manager.
· The job of a mainstreet-type manager is a good idea
for the town, especially since two-thirds of the cost will be
carried by private funding. With the right person in the job,
the city's potential investment of $100,000 over five years would
be a bargain. But if the position does get the go-ahead, it should
be clear up front who that person works for - the city or the
museum board. They shouldn't be expected to answer to two bosses.
Like the rest of the county, Jefferson is growing and is experiencing
the pains of that growth.
We hope the city council will rise to that challenge on this,
and other issues. Wallowing in the mud and muck doesn't advance
their cause or the interests of the citizens they serve.
to the Editor
The Jackson Herald
July 14, 1999
Wants Stringer Lane to be paved
After reading last week's letter above paving our roads, I decided
to write hoping I could get an answer to my question. When will
the work on Stringer Lane in Jefferson be completed? The county
started working on paving Stringer Lane last year. The only work
done last year was one resident received a new fence. Then, nothing
until two weeks ago when the water department came out and began
laying new water lines. Now that work has stopped and is incomplete.
I was told there was nothing else they could do until the county
gets out here. However, I see the county out upgrading and paving
roads for residents with more influence. That does not seem right
to me. What do the residents of Stringer Lane need to do to get
the work completed that began over a year ago?