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By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
December 29, 1999

Frankly Speaking

'Citizens of the Year'
When the Journal was under my management, I started a program of recognizing a "Citizen of the Year." Mainstreet Newspapers has, to date, not continued that practice.
However, I still feel that those citizens who make a special contribution to our community deserve to be recognized, and I planned to use this column to award the title "Citizen of the Year" to a deserving individual.
My problem is that this has been a year of considerable progress for Madison County, and many people are deserving of the honor. When I started narrowing down the field, I found three individuals whose contributions will have a lasting impact on Madison County. I cannot choose between the three. I will present them in alphabetical order.
Madison County's rapid growth has made an E-911 system vital. Yet work on the system was staggering along with more backsliding than progress. That is, until GEORGE NALE was named chairman of the E-911 committee. George went to work, pressuring the committee and the board of commissioners to make the decisions and commitments necessary to get the system on line. Early in 1999, the E-911 system opened for service and is working well.
Madison County's Board of Commissioners has been caught in the grip of factionalism for the past several years. The battles were being fed by a county policy that allowed any commissioner to file lawsuits for any reason against any other commissioner or the chairman and have all their legal fees paid by the taxpayers. This absurd situation was costing our county thousands of dollars and serious delays in needed local programs. When BRUCE SCOGIN joined the commission, he immediately started an effort to change the policy on legal fees and promote cooperation rather than confrontation on the board. His success produced a board of commissioners that is finally representing the people of Madison County, rather than narrow political interests.
Madison County's tax base is severely restricted by lack of a strong retail system. Most of our citizens work and shop in surrounding counties. An opportunity for a major retail center exists in western Madison County, but it cannot be developed without basic infrastructure. STEVE SORRELLS, chairman of the Industrial Authority, has devoted untold hours of hard work to planning and launching a county water system in the Dogsboro area. A 300,000 gallon storage tank is under construction near the new Hull/Sanford school that has already spurred the expansion of the Ingles Supermarket. Numerous other retail and service companies are studying the area. The new taxes that a strong commercial center will bring this area will benefit the entire county.
These accomplishments are the work of many people. All of them deserve our thanks. But it was the leadership, coordination and hard work of the three men listed above that assured the success of these vital efforts. Because of their love of and concern for Madison County, we all have a better place to build our homes, raise our children and reach our goals.
When you see George Nale, Bruce Scogin or Steve Sorrells, be sure to thank them for their efforts to make our lives better.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.

By Amanda Roberts
The Madison County Journal
December 29, 1999

I can see!!!
My senior year in college is when it happened. I tried to ignore it. This happens to people who are ... you know ... old. I'm young. It can't be happening to me, I would say. I ignored it for a long time until I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to admit it: my eyesight wasn't what it used to be. I couldn't see the board. I couldn't read road signs. Everything from afar was blurry. I had to go to the eye doctor. I couldn't believe I had to wear glasses.
I hated those glasses!! I refused to wear them. I had at least 50 excuses explaining why I couldn't wear them. My next eye exam was awful. My vision was only getting worse. CONTACTS!! That's it. I will wear contacts.
My sister, Angie, has worn them forever. Why didn't I get them in the first place? Little did I know that contacts would only be a bigger thorn than glasses. I went through five different kinds. Every pair danced around in my eyes. One pair was lost somewhere in my eyelids for about two days. Daddy pinned me down and about rolled my eyeball out of my head. That's enough!! No more contacts. Something else must be out there for me.
Aunt Peggy came to my rescue. She told me about corrective eye surgery. We watched a video about it. This painless surgery was the way for me. I couldn't make the appointment fast enough. Angie would be so happy for me. I can always count on her for support. When I called her, the response I got was ... NO!! YOU'LL GO BLIND!! YOU'RE NOT SERIOUS ... I'M TELLIN' MAMA!
Well, this really made me want to have the surgery. I would prove her wrong. I wasn't nervous at all until the night before. Angie called to inform me that she and Mama were going to be there with me. Every step of the way. Great, a worrywort and a pessimist.
We arrived at the doctor's office early. First mistake. I didn't know you could sit in the waiting room and watch the doctor perform the surgery. Then there was the TV screen which showed the eye and every move the doctor made. Angie was like a cat on a hot tin roof. I almost had to blindfold her. Before the procedure began, they game me a few "relaxers." I wish Angie and Mama could have had some. They needed it more than me. I decided to go first so Angie and Mama wouldn't have a nervous breakdown.
The surgery didn't last long at all and was really painless. Even though Angie said I told her that it was very painful afterward. Having to stare at a bright light was the hardest thing for me. Other than that, it really wasn't bad. I could almost see clearly the minute I got up. I thanked God it was over and everything went successfully. Angie finally calmed down.
The doctors are great! They called to check on me and have made several appointments to continue checking my vision. My vision is 20/15! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to not wrestle with contacts or wear glasses all of the time. Thank God, I can see and I didn't listen to Angie.
Amanda Roberts is a fourth grade teacher at Maysville Elementary School and resident of Homer.
Her sister, Angie Gary, is associate editor of The Jackson Herald and editor of The Banks County News.

The Madison County Journal
December 29, 1999

Madison County fire-rescue Y2K ready
Dear editor:
Madison County's fire and rescue services are ready and prepared for the change of the millennium. The fire departments, rescue service, the Madison County Emergency Management Agency, the Madison County Emergency Communications Center (E-911), and the Madison County Sheriff's Department have worked together to prepare for any likely event during the New Year's Eve-New Year's morning period.
The computer and dispatch equipment at the E-911 center were purchased this year and are certified to be Y2K compliant. The E-911 center has a backup electrical battery system and a backup power generator that can use either natural gas or propane. Each transmitter site also has a backup power generator. All generators will be tested on December 31. Extra dispatchers will be on duty.
Both Alltel and BellSouth have tested their equipment and have found it to be Y2K compliant. The only likely problem could come from customers overloading the system with calls to friends and relatives extending New Year's wishes. If this happens, you will not get a dial tone. If you have an emergency and don't get a dial tone, do not hang up. The phone company equipment will give you a dial tone on a first come-first served basis.
Beginning about 10 p.m. on Dec. 31, all emergency radios and pagers in the county will be tested. This is to make sure there are no problems before the change of the year. The equipment will be tested again in the first 30 minutes of the New Year. If there are problems, representatives of our radio company and the service contractor for our E-911 system will be available. Representatives from the fire service, the rescue service, and Madison County Emergency Management Agency will also be present in the E-911 center. Extra deputies will be on duty.
All fire stations in Madison County will be manned from around 10 p.m. on New Year's Eve until it has been determined that all telephone, electrical and other communication systems are working. If you have an emergency and cannot contact the E-911 center, go to your nearest fire station. Firefighters will be able to help and also communicate with other emergency services, including the ambulance service and sheriff's department. DO NOT GO TO THE E-911 CENTER DURING THE Y2K PERIOD. This will be a secure area and you will not be admitted.
Sometimes there is an advantage to having old equipment. Some of the radios in our fire trucks are so old that they were built before computer chips were invented. If everything else fails, we are confident this equipment will work.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency have some simple advice to prepare for the change of the year. Prepare for Y2K as you would for a winter storm. Have three or four days' food and drinking water in the house. Make sure you have adequate food for infants and people with special dietary needs. Just as before a snow storm, it is highly likely there will be a run on bread, milk, black-eyed peas and collard greens at your local grocery store on New Year's Eve. Be prepared. Have any vital prescriptions refilled toward the end of the year. Have a good supply of batteries for flashlights and a transistor radio. Fill the gas tank in your car. If you have an alternative heat source like a kerosene heater, make sure it is properly vented. Remember that Coleman stoves are not designed for use indoors. If you have a fireplace, have some wood in a dry place. If there is a problem, and none are expected locally, stay calm. Madison County's two banks are fully Y2K compliant. Both banks expect their ATM machines to work normally during the Y2K period. Having a large amount of cash only increases the chance you will be a crime victim. The volunteers of your Madison County Fire Departments and Rescue Service will be on duty so that everyone else in our county can have a safe, worry-free, and happy New Year.
Dale Perry, Madison County Volunteer Firefighters Association
Johnny Bridges, Madison County Emergency Management Agency

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