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Mike Buffington
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 Herald.

The Jackson Herald
July 14, 1999

Jefferson meeting a debacle
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.

Letters to the Editor
The Jackson Herald
July 14, 1999

Wants Stringer Lane to be paved
Dear Editor:
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?
Karen Layman

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