The Madison County Journal
September 1, 1999
Next week's issue marks the two- year
anniversary of MainStreet Newspapers' acquisition of The Madison
In those two years a lot of changes have taken place. For one
thing, the paper has gotten a lot bigger, and with the greater
resources of MainStreet, a greater effort has been made to cover
the news, sports and community events around the county.
It has been my privilege to have the opportunity to spotlight
some of the people and things that make this little corner of
the world the unique - and special - place that it is. I hope
to be able to continue to do this in the weeks to come.
It was a special thrill to me when we found out the Journal had
won some state-wide awards from the Georgia Press Association
- especially as it was our first year to enter the contest.
It was also extremely nice of our editor, Zach Mitcham, to give
credit to all of us that make up the team of The Madison County
Journal, and as he pointed out, it takes a lot of people to achieve
the finished product each week.
May I also add that Zach's commitment and dedication to making
the paper the best that it can be are appreciated by the staff
and I'm sure by our readers.
But there is one person who I would like to remember and acknowledge
for her hard work and sacrifice long before the paper existed
in its present form, and without whom the Journal might not even
exist today. That person is Carlene Peavy, former managing editor
of the original Journal.
As most of you probably know, the paper began as an idea in founder
Frank Gillispie's head because of concerns over traffic problems
in the county - particularly at the Dogsboro intersection. From
a periodic newsletter, it soon grew to a small weekly tabloid-
With positive response from the community, he moved the Journal's
"office" from a corner of his bedroom to a small building
on the square in Danielsville. It was there that he was soon
joined by Carlene, an experienced graphic artist who had just
moved to the county and was looking for a job.
She found that job - and a cause.
Carlene set out to help Frank get the fledgling newspaper off
the ground. Her first work area consisted of makeshift backboards
to put the lay-out pages on, a one-eye burner, a skillet to heat
wax in and a paintbrush to "paint" it on the pages
Later, when I and others came on the scene, Carlene served as
the nucleus around which we all revolved. It is thanks to her
and to Frank that I learned a little something about most aspects
of the newspaper business.
She worked long and hard hours - often coming in on weekends
to do the pasteup work - still done by hand "the old-fashioned
We made it much of the time literally from week to week. Sometimes,
after the expenses of that week's edition were paid for, there
was no money left for payroll. A number of times we all had to
wait for our pay. Carlene, who was also in charge of this, always
paid herself last.
On more than one occasion, I discovered her taking money from
her personal savings account so the staff could get paid. She
never managed to "pay herself" back for some of that
continued on page 5A
Carlene died in May of 1997 after fighting a losing battle with
advanced breast cancer. When she could no longer stand - she
sat to do her work. She continued to work at the paper for as
long as she could until she grew too ill to leave her bed.
We all wondered how the Journal would continue after her death.
Now, as the paper is beginning to enjoy some success, I often
think about things she said to rally us when it seemed we were
not going to be able to keep going.
She always had faith that one day, if we kept at it, the Journal
would be successful, respected, and recognized as an important
part of the community.
I like to think she knows how far we've come.
Here's to you Carlene, and all you gave to the Madison County
Margie Richards is a reporter and office
manager for the Madison County Journal.
The Madison County Journal
September 1, 1999
- Frankly Speaking
Where have our workers gone?
The most recent Civilian Labor Force estimates have been released
by the Georgia Department of Labor. It appears to me that there
is something wrong with the figures. On the surface, they look
good. Madison County has a 3.3 percent unemployment rate. Clarke
County is three percent and Oconee County finds only 1.5 percent
of its work force unemployed.
Now the bad news. There are 446 fewer people with jobs in Madison
County than a year ago. At the same time the county's work force
has dropped by 450 people. This is occurring at the same time
that the county's population is rapidly growing.
At the same time, the number of people receiving welfare has
dropped dramatically. One would think that these people leaving
the welfare list were going onto the employment list.
Apparently that is not the case.
Now I am not comparing the rates from last month. Employment
figures change rapidly in the summer due to students and teachers
coming temporarily into the job market during school vacation.
But the figures should be comparable for the same month each
So, where have our workers gone? I am not an economist, therefore
I have to make a country guess as to what has happened.
I have talked with a number of employers who tell me that they
are having problems finding qualified workers. Evidently, almost
everyone who wants to work has a job. Therefore, the 3.3 percent
figure is probably accurate. The size of the work force has dropped
because many people who were on the list as seeking work have
Where did they go? If they are not working, or drawing welfare,
how are they living? I think they are still living on welfare.
The form of the giveaway plans has changed, even given new names.
But people who insist on living on other people's efforts are
still living that way.
It is true that the state has reduced the number of people receiving
direct welfare payments. But they still get food stamps, rent
support, WIC vouchers, Medicaid and a hundred other state and
federal giveaways. The direct welfare payments were never a major
part of their unearned income in the first place.
What does that have to do with unemployment figures? Most direct
welfare programs require that the recipient be actively looking
for work. So these people regularly registered with the state
employment office. They were included in the work force figures.
Now they don't even have to pretend to look for work. They just
collect their "benefits", that you and I pay for, and
head back to their couch with a fresh six pack, that you and
I paid for and don't even try to find work.
Before you accuse me of being hard-hearted, let me acknowledge
that there are people who actually need our help. I have no problems
offering temporary help where it is needed. It is those people
that make a career of living off the government (you and me)
that get me mad.
Someone once said that there are facts and then there are statistics.
Sometimes you have to look behind the figures to find the facts.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison