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OPINION PAGE - DECEMBER 8, 1999 - JEFFERSON, GA

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Editorials
The Jackson Herald
December 8, 1999

Lower flags to half-mast Tues.
Next Tuesday presents a terrific learning event for area school children. December 14 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of George Washington, one of the leading figures of American history.
A number of events are being planned across the nation to mark this anniversary, many organized through the Mount Vernon Association. Local Cub Scouts plan to put a wreath along Washington Street in Jefferson next to the county courthouse on Monday to mark the occasion. No doubt, many school teachers are also using the occasion to remind students about Washington's importance to the nation as both a military leader and its first president. (See the essay about Washington elsewhere on this page.)
National coordinators of the Washington anniversary events have called for public agencies, businesses and individuals to lower their flag to half-mast Tuesday from dawn to dusk to mark the occasion of Washington's death.
We encourage Jackson Countians to join in this event by also lowering their flags to half-mast as a sign of respect to the historical significance of George Washington.



Special Feature
The Jackson Herald
December 8, 1999

George Washington: The building of a leader
(Editor's Note: December 14, 1999, marks the bicentennial of the death of George Washington. Many historical organizations are remembering this event across the country. Following is a paper written by Sara Dzimianski, a Nicholson home educated student, that won the district and state essay contests for the Georgia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution. She was sponsored by the Lyman Hall Chapter in Gainesville.)

BY SARA DZIMIANSKI
"...First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen."
These were the words of Henry (Light Horse Harry) Lee concerning George Washington. Why is Washington remembered in such a way, and how did he gain such a reputation? His principles of success were the result of character and morals instilled in him by his parents and God's word. History clearly reveals his courage, virtue and valor through his success on the battlefield, the political arena, and in life.
George Washington's leadership potential was manifest in his 110 Rules of Civility. The thoroughness, wisdom and respect in this work portrayed maturity beyond his 15 years.
He took the initiative to restore his father's old surveying equipment, and at age 16 he was given the responsibility of accompanying James Genn on a month-long expedition to survey the vast lands of Lord Fairfax. God used these experiences to mature and strengthen him for future military service.
In 1753, at the age of 21, Washington was commissioned as a major and was put in charge of training the militia in Southern Virginia. War with the French and Indians over the Ohio Valley was inevitable. In 1754, the courageous Washington was made a lieutenant colonel and entrusted with a military command. On Washington's first military campaign May 1, 1754, he and his small group of volunteers put up a valiant fight against the French despite overwhelming odds. The Americans had to surrender, yet because of their courage under the leadership of Washington the people hailed them as heroes.
On February 20, 1755, the British General Braddock and his soldiers arrived in America to fight the French and Indians. Washington's reputation for leadership and courage caused the general to choose him as an aide. On July 9, 1755, Braddock's soldiers were in high spirits because of anticipated victory. Suddenly a barrage of musket balls poured onto the unsuspecting troops. The British soldiers had never seen anything like it. It seemed to them like a supernatural attack from invisible spirits! The soldiers were in utter confusion. They fired wildly into the trees, doing no harm to their attackers, who had cunningly ambushed them. The Indians, unerring marksmen, singled out the mounted officers, of whom all were killed or seriously injured except for Washington. He continued throughout the battle, riding through the midst of danger boldly carrying Braddock's orders to the men. Washington assumed the great responsibility of managing the fleeing army when Braddock was mortally wounded. He showed great discernment in directing the retreat in spite of the panic. During the battle, he had two horses shot out from under him and later discovered four bullet holes through his coat. Because of his courage, character and God's divine intervention, Washington gathered acclaim and honor from the same battlefield where his commander received only dishonor and death. God used a tragic battle to polish Washington's ability to be a leader of men.
In 1770, Washington and Dr. Craik were exploring in the vicinity of that battle. A company of Indians asked them to a council fire, and their old, respected chief spoke to Washington. The chief said, "I am a chief, and a ruler over many tribes .... I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on that day when the white man's blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]. I called to my young men and said ... Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which for you knew not how to miss - 'twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you. I am old ... ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy. Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing at Washington], and guides his destinies - he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle."
From 1775 to 1781, General George Washington led the Americans to victory against the British in the Revolutionary War. His earlier experiences developed leadership qualities in him that have not been matched in the history of our country. He demonstrated the courage, wisdom, reverence and selflessness that had been part of his life from the beginning. His life motivated others to give their all for the cause of liberty. After the war was over, he refused the position of king, knowing that monarchy was not the type of government our nation needed. Later, as the idea for a presidency was conceived, Washington was elected unanimously to become our first president. During his eight years as our greatest president, Washington always put the good of the country above his own desires. The thirteen states grew to fifteen under his leadership, and were united in spirit.
George Washington had become a chief of nations. His courage and character were above the reproach of men. Today everyone knows his name, and we who were unborn at the time now hail him as the founder and greatest leader of this mighty empire we call America.



Column
By Mike Buffington
December 8, 1999
Growth brings pressure on budget
There's something odd going on in the Jackson County court system budget. Despite the fact that Jackson County is growing, and presumably having more crime along with that growth, fine income from the major county courts is falling.
In 1994, the total fine income from all county courts was $1.44 million. Budgeted for 2000 is only $528,000 from those same courts.
But this drop in income isn't across the board. The magistrate court, for example, is bringing in more money now than in the past. In 1995, it took in $70,000 in fees. For the year 2000, it's projected to bring in around $76,000.
The Superior Court also has an uneven record of fine income. It hit a high mark in 1995 at $288,000, but is projected next year to be only $115,000. That, however, may be a conservative budget number. The Superior Court hit a low of $138,400 in 1996, but since then has shown increases each year, topping $190,000 in 1998.
But it is in the State Court that the issue of income really comes into question. With a high of just over $1 million in 1994, the State Court income has continued to drop. In 1998, the last year of a 12-month audit, the court took in only $334,200. Next year, it is budgeted to bring in only $300,000.
One of the causes of this trend may be fewer traffic fines being handed out in Jackson County. With the growth in other areas of law enforcement demands, speeding tickets have taken a back seat to other needs. At one time, Jackson County law enforcement officials wrote a lot of speeding tickets along I-85. Part of that effort was funded by federal DUI grants which no longer exist.
None of this is to suggest that speeding tickets should be handed out just to generate income to the county. But it is perhaps one sign of the kind of budget strain growth brings to local governments. Because of the increased demand on deputies, traffic cases may not be getting the attention they did in the past. That, in turn, is reflected in the budget process.
Jackson County is reaching a point where there will be other budget distortions as well. In some instances, the cost of new services will outpace the income generated by additional construction projects. That's true for recreation, where additional people make demands on services before the budget process can catch up. It's also true for many public safety departments, where growth generates costs quicker than it does income.
So far, Jackson County leaders have been able to keep up with that by leaving large sums of income in contingency funding to be used during the year to fill in the growing needs. But what county leaders have been less successful at doing is focusing on those operations where non-tax income could be used to lower the tax subsidy.
There are four areas of the county budget where user or participation fees should go up: recreation, building inspection, the landfill and the senior citizens' center.
Recreation user fees only bring in around $116,000 to the county, but the department's budget is over $358,000. While recreation is a worthwhile effort, the taxpayer subsidy should be much smaller, with those of us who use the department paying more. The same is true for the senior citizens' center, which now depends on $173,800 from local taxpayers to pay toward its $294,500 budget. Somehow, users of that facility should pay more to lessen the tax burden on the rest of the county budget.
The county landfill also needs a $161,700 tax subsidy for its operations. Why not raise the tipping fees to cover that?
The building inspection department is a little different from the others in that its income almost covers all the cost of the department. But in reality, the fees from planning and development should allow the county to enlarge that department and to spend additional resources on real planning rather than just keeping up with the day-to-day duties. Raising the inspection fees is one way to afford the county's planning efforts.
The county budget process is difficult and covers an unbelievable number of items. But the budget process isn't just about making the numbers balance; it's also about attempting to balance the competing needs in a fair way.
For the most part, that's being done. But a little more attention to some of these items could help the process even more.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.



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