October-November, 1998
Jefferson, Georgia


SPECIAL FEATURE

"Opinion On Jackson County"
-Adams' Second Letter
-November 11, 1998 Update
-November 18, 1998 Update


The Original Letter:
October 21 Issue
The Jackson Herald
 
Dear Editor:
As a newcomer to Jackson County, and as a property owner and taxpayer here, I would like to give my opinion of Jackson County.
I moved here, built a nice home on a dirt road that the county refuses to pave. To me this place has become a nightmare of dust, stray dogs and speeding cars.
When I sit on my front porch, I see two old barns that are eyesores and should have been torn down 100 years ago. If you drive around the countryside, all you see is old run-down mobile homes.
This county has nothing to offer people living here. There are no doctors, no hospital, nowhere to shop and no place to dine out. I can't see why anyone would want to live in this Godforsaken place.
Yes, I am from Gwinnett County. I lived there for 20 years and loved it. I didn't move here to get away from the new mall. I still drive there every day to work and shop.
When I read the opinions in The Jackson Herald, I can only think you people are still living in the 1800s. If any place needs growth, I would say Jackson County sure does.
 
Sincerely,
Nina Adams
Jefferson

The Responses:
October 28 Issue
The Jackson Herald
 
Why did you build on a dirt road?
Dear Editor:
I read with much amazement the letter in your op-ed from Ms. Nina Adams, and as we are kindred spirits on a few of her points, I am forced to question her on others.
First of all, if you didn't want to live on a dirt road, why did you build your home on one?
Second, that's why they call it "the country," so the dogs can roam free, and it is supposed to be scenic. As far as the speeders are concerned, do what I do and call the police, that's what part of your taxes pay for.
Third, the old barns are called history, and are probably why you bought on that dirt road in the first place. Then, you considered them charming, not eyesores.
The point you make about the mobile homes is well taken. We, as a county, need to stop the proliferation of this type of housing. It will destroy our tax base and overburden our infrastructure. Four thousand to 5,000 mobile homes is enough.
This county may not offer everyone all of life's amenities, but it does have a lot to offer. It has some of the best food, simple country face, at good prices with a one or one-and-a-half hour wait. As for shopping, have you heard of Commerce?
Ms. Adams, you live in Jackson County, enjoy the low taxes, fresh air and low crime rates, but your heart is in Gwinnett, with all their other inconveniences. I, too, am from Gwinnett County. I lived there for 21 years and loved it. I did move to get away from the mall(s), and everything else that goes with it. I still drive every day to my business in Norcross. But unlike you, I find Jackson County and the people living here to be some of the nicest, most God-fearing people I have ever met. I thank God for taking me to Jackson County in 1996.
Every time I get off at exit 49, I know I'm home. Home to the lifestyle I chose. If this is the 1800s, that must be why they say that it was a much kindlier and gentler time. I want to thank you for reminding me of why I moved here in the first place.

Sincerely,

Joseph J. Holt

Jefferson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Chose county for its people
Dear Editor:
In response to the letter to the editor about Jackson Countians living in the 1800s, published on Oct. 21:
I have lived in Jackson County for five years. I chose Jackson County for its untouched beauty and its people. I have the best neighbors I could ever hope for. Everyone I've met here has been warm, friendly and unpretentious. I feel I have been accepted by these people and I thank the people of Jackson County for that. The only negative thing I could say about Jackson County is about the government. There is some disorganization and a "good ole boy mentality" in the local government. I consider this to be a minor negative that the people more than make up for.
I believe with a little forethought on your part, even you could be happy living here. Why would you build your "nice house" on a dirt road facing two old barns and then complain? I believe it was your choice. Why would someone like you move to Jackson County in the first place?
I can tell you haven't made any friends here. Allow me to offer some advice. First, try taking a step off your pedestal, look people in the eye instead of down your nose at them. Second, you should get to know those people living in the "old run-down mobile homes." They'll probably be the best people you'll ever meet. Third, there is a book I'd like to suggest to you, it's called the Bible. It's good reading, but be warned there are stories about good, hard-working, poor people in this book. One was actually born in a barn. I hope these stories won't offend you, but the book is worth reading.
Jackson County has a lot to offer anyone who's willing to get to know the people. I like it just the way it is! You said, "If any place needs growth, I would say Jackson County sure does." Well, Nina, if growth means having snobs move in to whine and complain-we don't need it, nor do we want it!
Nina Adams, you owe the good people of Jackson County an apology!
Finally, if the previous advice doesn't work for you, I have only one last piece of advice-move!

Sincerely,

Renay Newell

South Jackson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Believe county is a better place to live
Dear Editor:
I would like to comment on the letter from Nina Adams in last week's paper about Jackson County living in 1800s.
My wife and I recently moved here from DeKalb County, bought property and built a home. We have only good things to say about Jefferson. In all the dealings with the county government officers for building permits and tag registration, we found that people here are the warmest, kindest and as friendly as anyone can be. I am glad to live here and enjoy the peace and quiet of a small town with no traffic jams and MARTA buses.
There may not be a hospital in town, but there are three just minutes away. There are good places to eat here if you look around and shopping malls are close.
If Nina likes Gwinnett County, she should have stayed. There must have been something wrong to make her move to Jefferson. If she still drives there to work and shop, maybe it would benefit her to move back to Gwinnett and save gas so she can shop more.
I still have to work in DeKalb County every day, but I wouldn't live there again for any reason.
This county may not have all the conveniences of Gwinnett, but that is what makes it a better place to live.
I say, if it's not up to someone's expectations, then move out.

Sincerely,

E. L. S.

Jefferson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Quality of life is good here
Dear Editor:
This is in response to the letter from Nina Adams in the Wednesday, Oct. 21, edition of the paper.
Ms. Adams, if you are unhappy living on a dirt road, why did you build your home on a dirt road in the first place? That seems like very poor planning on your part, if that is not the environment you wanted.
You stated that you see old barns that should've been torn down 100 years ago. You called them eyesores. When I see old barns, I see history. I think about the people who built them, the lives they led, how hard they must have worked without all the conveniences we enjoy today. Those eyesores are rich with a charm of their own. It's a shame you cannot see that.
This county may not have the night life, the doctors, the hospitals or the eating places that Clarke, Hall and Gwinnett counties have, but I don't care. We knew when we moved here that we would have to drive some distance for certain conveniences. We value the lower property taxes, and I will happily trade those aforementioned items for anything that helps me to keep more of my money. It seems to me that you did a very poor job of researching where you planned to live. The faults you perceive, you accepted when you built here.
I value the ruralness of this county. I value the cows, the chicken houses, the farms I see every day. This is not a Godforsaken county; this is a county rich in history, friendly people and a way of life that is, sadly, dying off far too prevalently in this state.
If you want the asphalt to cover most of what you see, if you want to cut down trees and to deprive yourself of the beauty of nature, if you want all that Gwinnett County can offer, then by all means, go back. We don't need your type here.
We do need animal control, and there are a lot of trashy mobile homes around here, but hey, my property taxes sure as heck beat what a lot of others pay. My quality of life is very good here in Jackson County and I am proud to claim residence here. I received so much good help from citizens here when we built our home-quality work, from quality people who cared about the workmanship they produced. I value the people of this county-too bad we're getting more people with your attitude.
I'd be willing to bet that you had your own share of gripes about Gwinnett County and that's why you moved here. If you can't see the forest for the trees, then please, go back to where there are no forest, where there's plenty of urban sprawl, plenty of crime and all the shopping you want. Life is what you make it, happiness comes from within, and if you cannot be happy in Jackson County, then you are indeed a pauper.

Sincerely,

Ramona Latimer

Pendergrass


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Thinks woman should move
Dear Editor:
Since Ms. Nina Adams is so unhappy living here in Jackson County, perhaps she should consider moving back to Gwinnett.

Sincerely,

Jean V. Wood

Jefferson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Loves Jackson County
Dear Editor:
I am responding to the letter published in last week's paper by Nina Adams. I have lived in Jackson County all my life and I wouldn't have it any other way. What's not to love about Jackson County? Sure, there are still a few dirt roads and old barns around. So?
We're practically in the heart of it all. It only takes about an hour to get to the Blue Ridge Mountains or Metro-Atlanta. We're only 30 minutes from Gainesville and Athens. But, most of all, take a look around us. History, beautiful land, communities, families... need I say more?
I'm sure that most Jackson Countians would agree with me. We are here because we love it. Most of our families were born and raised here or nearby. I work from time to time in the metro area. Like they say, "It's nice to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there." However, this is my opinion, we're all entitled to one. Apparently Ms. Adams doesn't appreciate the things I appreciate, like breathing clean air, peaceful drives through the country and a yard for my children to play in. I have all I need here in Jackson County: my family, nice home, friends and just peaceful living.
If Ms. Adams feels we're living in the 1800s and doesn't cherish and love our county, maybe she should consider moving back to Gwinnett County, where people pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to live in houses practically one on top of the other, no yards, no trees, just lots of traffic, office buildings, shopping centers, and let's not forget, malls!

Sincerely,

Michelle Funderburk

Center


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Look at area before moving
Dear Editor:
I am writing in response to the hateful, ignorant letter submitted last week by Nina Adams. I would like to suggest that she move back to Gwinnett County. Did she not know the road was dirt when she built her home? Did someone move some old barns into her neighborhood? If she is a shop-aholic, then why did she move to a rural area with no malls? Did she know there were mobile homes in the area before she built her home? And I suppose she doesn't know how to cook and must have a McDonald's within walking distance from her home.
I moved here from the Old Bolton Home Place purchased in the year 1873 to get away from all the roads Gwinnett County has paved, widened and paved again. I looked long and hard before I bought land in Jackson County. I would suggest that people look carefully at any area before they buy land and build a house. If a person doesn't like the area, why would they move here? Don't settle next to a cow pasture and complain about the manure. I wouldn't move to the city and complain about the traffic.
I have two words to say to Ms. Adams: Go home.

Sincerely,

Jeff Bolton

Hoschton


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Enjoying Jackson County life
Dear Editor:
As a newcomer to Jackson County and as a property owner and taxpayer here, I would like to give my opinion of Jackson County.
I moved here into a nice home my husband built on 16 acres. It is beautiful here. I only wish we had built it down a dusty dirt road rather than across from the soon-to-be Mulberry Plantation.
The area is beautiful with old barns, large trees and open fields. The people are warm, friendly and unhurried. There are not many billboards, strip shopping centers or other eyesores. We enjoy home-cooked meals and are thankful for the fresh vegetables from our neighbors' garden.
My oldest daughter is in the wonderful band program at West Jackson Middle School. They are planning a trip to Disney World this year. We have been very happy with the schools here. Jackson County Elementary has a wonderful after school program which we didn't have in Newton County and many of my friends don't have in their Gwinnett County Schools.
Bigger is not always better. It makes me sad to know that we will have to watch the area around us change. But for now, we will enjoy life in this beautiful community and we will pray for those who cannot see the beauty of their surroundings.

Sincerely,

Susan A. Bolton

Hoschton


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Says county has doctors
Dear Editor:
In a letter to the editor in last week's Jackson Herald, one writer stated among other things that: "This county has nothing to offer people living here. There are no doctors..."
This is not an accurate statement. My home is located a few yards from a medical facility on Athens Street. My personal physician, Dr. John Thomas Crenshaw, is one of the finest physicians in Georgia. His office is located on Memorial Drive.
I am convinced that there is not a physician in Gwinnett County or anywhere else who treats his patients with greater care, professional skill and compassion than Dr. Crenshaw.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Davis

Jefferson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
A different opinion of county
Dear Editor:
After reading the opinion of that unhappy "newcomer" from Gwinnett County, I feel compelled to offer a different opinion of life in Jackson County. I would not want the good people of Jackson County to believe that all of us ex-Gwinnett countians are dissatisfied with our choice of residence.
My family moved here from Lawrenceville almost two years ago. We were in pursuit of a dream of owning a little land and living in a country- like setting. We were looking for a small town atmosphere and rural flavor. We've not been disappointed.
There are so many good reasons for living here. Like having the cashiers at the grocery store act like they are glad to see you, or to come into town and actually see people you know, or not having to stand in long lines at the post office at Christmas time or on April 15. Or how about getting to see your children's names in the local newspaper for their school and sports accomplishments, or visiting a local doctor (yes, there are doctors in this county) to get a physical for your child who is trying out for a school sports team, and finding out that most local doctors offer that service for free. How about getting to watch a homecoming parade or to see your whole community turn out to trick or treat on the town square. Or how about to live in a neighborhood where your neighbors are your friends and you know they care about you and your children. These were not our experiences in Gwinnett.
We have been graciously welcomed to this county and made to feel like we are a part of this community. We have become an active part of a loving church family, we volunteer at school, we coach Rec. League sports teams, and we've even adopted a stray dog. This county has a lot to offer those who are willing to offer some of themselves instead of sitting on their front porches grumbling.
When we made our choice to move, we weighed the pros and cons, and while knowing that no place is perfect, we came in with our eyes open and a positive attitude. The countless dining and shopping opportunities of Metro Atlanta are a fair exchange for the better lifestyle we've chosen in Jackson County. I mean it when I say "I love this place."

Sincerely,

Vivian Scott

Jefferson


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
'If you don't like it, move'
Dear Editor:
In response to Jackson County living in the 1800s, I have been here almost 50 years. I remember when we didn't have traffic and could leave our doors unlocked. Now all these people move in and we have it all. If you don't like it, move. By the way, we have plenty of good doctors, BJC is a wonderful hospital.

Sincerely,

June Rockefeller

Hoschton


The Jackson Herald-October 28, 1998
Love it or leave it
Dear Editor:
We would like to offer an opinion on Nina Adams' letter.
Why did you build a house on a dirt road if you don't like dust? Didn't you realize dirt roads get dusty when it gets dry? They also get muddy when it rains, if you haven't been here that long.
If you don't like to look at old barns, why did you build a house there? The people who own them probably didn't care if you moved here or not.
The best thing we can tell you is don't let the gate hit you in the - when you move back to Gwinnett County.

Sincerely,

James Wilhite and

Mary Ellen McClure


More Response:
November 4 Issue
The Jackson Herald
We have our own 'piece of heaven'
 
Dear Editor:
Responding to the recent Letter to the Editor by Ms. Nina Adams. Ma'am, I cannot believe the temerity of your letter. Why did you move to this "Godforsaken place" (your words)? My family lives in a doublewide trailer and we have our own piece of heaven on a beautiful creek. We dine at home a great deal (it's great and healthy too), but frequently eat at many fine establishments here in Jackson County.
I also moved my family here from Gwinnett, and Henry County before that, and the Camden County-Kingsbay area before that. Did you ever stop to think that just maybe Gwinnett looked similar to Jackson 20 years ago? All of these counties look alike at some stage of their history. Parts of Gwinnett still do!
How about those folks in those "old run-down mobile homes?" Just maybe those folks are living within their means! I am sure some of those people just appreciate your fine home and how it is going to increase the property values and cause their taxes to increase, when they probably have a hard time paying taxes on what they presently own! I am also sure that their homes mean as much to them as yours does!
Frankly, I find Jackson County to be very picturesque and am very proud to call it home. Have you ever stopped to think about the history and heritage behind those "two old barns?"
In our short time living here we have met many wonderful and charming people. I think you need to either lighten up or trot back to Gwinnett. Or, as an alternative, get yourself some Jeff Foxworthy books and practice up on being a redneck! If you had a couple of cars up on blocks in front of your porch to obscure your view of those "old barns" and "run-down mobile homes," you might have a different outlook.
Isn't this America, where people can be, and do what they want to do within the confines of our laws? Maybe, Ms. Adams, you are one of those carpetbagger Yankees that has come down here to the south to tell us how to live!
I am being facetious with my last couple of sentences, and I really hope that you did not mean what you said in your letter to the editor. But, the tenor and the message actually frighten me. We have too much of a caste system growing in our country today. Few of us are actually Americans anymore. We are Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, Christians or non-Christians and so forth. Why must we try to change everyone and inflict our views and standards on everyone else? Wouldn't we all be much happier if we accepted people as they are and enjoy them for who they are?
I would bet that if you got to know some of those folks in those "old run-down mobile homes" and those folks who own those "two old barns" that you might find a few new friends who might show a side of Jackson County that you probably haven't seen. By the way, we don't have the crime, the gangs, the traffic, the taxes or any of those other things that you left behind in Gwinnett, here in Jackson County.
 
Sincerely,
Jeff Sheffield
Maysville

Adams' Second Letter:
The Jackson Herald-November 4, 1998
Adams responds to criticism
Dear Editor:
If it's an apology you want, you've got it. I don't know what possessed me to write that letter to the newspaper but something sure did. Maybe the devil was sitting beside me at that moment.
My letter was not directed toward the people of Jackson County, because I have not met anyone who was not top-quality people here. I am not very good at expressing myself, so sometimes I don't say things in the right way. So, I'm sure my letter was misunderstood badly.
I didn't just move here and start complaining. I have been here four years. With no rain this summer, the dust covered everything-even to the tops of trees. We have been to county meetings and tried for a long time to get this road paved. You know, we pay road tax too. But, God forbid that county officials should spend taxpayers' money to improve living conditions. As long as no one complains, it's OK to put my grandbabies to bed at night with their lungs full of dust.
Yes, I could move, and the thought has come to me many times. Someday, I'm sure I will.
I do not sit around and complain. I work 16 hours a day almost every day. I am not working for myself, I am helping someone else.
I am a born-again Christian and I am in church every Sunday. I am a devoted wife, mother and grandmother.
I personally own a trashy mobile home and I have four old barns on my property. I guess beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
I never say anything other than kindness to my neighbors and people I meet. Not a week goes by that I don't do a good deed for someone. I give to the poor, although I am a long way from being rich. I cut grass and clean homes for the elderly people who can't do it for themselves.
I give food and shelter to people who can't afford it. Just a few weeks ago, I was told about a man living in a cardboard box. I didn't know this man, but I offered him a small house on my property in Gwinnett with a bunk to sleep on, an electric heater and lights at no cost-just to help him out. I also have a family living in my old home in Gwinnett rent-free because they needed a place to stay. You see, I may not be perfect, but I have a God that is.
And I truly do acknowledge and accept the criticism you gave me.
 
Sincerely,
Nina Adams

Still More Response:
November 11 Issue
The Jackson Herald-November 11, 1998
 
Comments on apology
 
Dear Editor:
Let me be the first to lift up Nina Adams for her letter of apology. Ms. Adams, your first letter upset me, but the courage you showed in writing your second made up for it. I normally don't think much of Gwinnett transplants, but I'll make an exception in your case.
God bless you, sister, for your willingness to take the high road.
 
Sincerely,
Tim Thomas
Commerce

A Final Thought:
The Jackson Herald-November 11, 1998
Column, Mike Buffington

On the Adams letter
 
When Nina Adams wrote her now infamous letter to the editor three weeks ago, I had no idea it would generate such an outpouring of responses. Seldom has any issue produced such an avalanche of letters as did her impertinent thoughts on life in Jackson County. And although she offered a mea culpa last week, letters on the subject continue.
Obviously, there's something going on here beyond dusty dirt roads and broken-down barns. The huge response from both newcomers and old-timers offered a spirited defense of Jackson County and its quality of life. Most who fired back echoed a theme of "if you don't like it, then why'd you move here?" or, more pointedly, "if you don't like it, move back to where you came from."
Indeed, Ms. Adams' first letter was a verbal broadside against the county, a bitter exhalation of emotion. It reminded me of an "ugly American" in a foreign country who, instead of exploring a different culture with an open mind, complains the whole time that it isn't just like home.
Until last week's letter of apology, Ms. Adams might have been labeled as an "ugly Gwinnettian" who, once having moved to rural Jackson County, complains that it isn't just like her former suburban home in Gwinnett County.
Ms. Adams probably didn't know it at the time, but her complaints played directly on fears so many already have about the "Gwinnett invasion" and the likely impact it will have locally. There's a substantial number of people here who view any type growth as an erosion of their rural way of life. They're especially wary of transplanted Gwinnett Countians who they believe are bringing suburban growth problems further up I-85.
So when Ms. Adams complained about dirt roads and old barns, she attacked symbols many find attractive, symbols of Jackson County's rural, agrarian culture. Her tone was akin to spitting on the grave of a Confederate hero and then bragging to the deceased's family about it. I should have known the reaction would be vehement.
But the fear of growth runs deeper than just want-ing to preserve dirt roads or old barns. Indeed, there are probably some who, although disagreeing with Ms. Adams' tone, have themselves petitioned the county to have a road paved. (About 24 percent of the county's roads are unpaved.)
So why was the reaction so deep?
Perhaps in part, it comes from a fear that the county's sense of community will be trampled by careless and insensitive newcomers, people who express a disdain for all things rural.
There are some valid reasons for that fear. Although the post-W.W.II development of suburbs brought a great deal of prosperity to middle-class Americans, it had the unintended effect of swamping small towns. Where communities had once revolved around Main Street, they suddenly found themselves surrounded by vast subdivisions and commercial growth that redefined the margins of "community." While the old buildings might have survived, the town's civic, social, political and economic center was blurred.
As a result, many suburbanites came to define their community not in terms of geography or political units, but rather in terms of a particular lifestyle. The consequence of that Balkanized suburbia into small homogenous segments that, while giving a degree of comfort to homeowners, reduced communities to two dimensions. To a large extent, ethnic and racial segregation continued not by force, but by the overwhelming tide of hegemony. Even within racial boundaries, lifestyle economics mostly separated blue collar from white collar households.
But that sameness has begun to wear on some suburbanites who long for old-fashioned communities with three dimensions and a clear center. Even with its long list of problems, small-town, rural America has again become attractive to those tired of the whitebread suburbs. Thus, an exodus to places like Jackson County has begun.
But that exodus has not come without a price for the rural counties. Many of the problems that plague the suburbs - dense traffic and commercial eye pollution, to cite two examples - are apt to follow.
On the other hand, the romanticized expectations some have of rural life often clash with a harsher reality: Muddy roads, smelly chicken houses, poor housing areas and a lack of close-by services are aspects some die-hard suburbanites don't anticipate. That doesn't mean, however, that rural problems should be ignored or minimized. We do have some serious problems that need to be addressed.
Jackson County is now in a transition between rural and suburban, a phase often called "exurban." There's bound to be a lot of friction as the tectonic plates of these two cultures rub against each other.
There are no easy answers that will resolve this natural tension, yet it's important for the community to maintain a dialogue about the problems. And in that sense, Ms. Adams' letter served a useful purpose, even if it did miss the mark.
She certainly created more thought on the subject than this writer has ever been able to do. Maybe I should offer her a job?

STILL More:
The Jackson Herald-November 18, 1998
Met only kindness and
consideration in Jefferson
 
Dear Editor:
As a recent visitor to Jefferson I can't resist adding my "tuppence" worth to the correspondence stirred up by Ms. Nina Adams (21 October).
Even as a visitor, I could not help but be impressed by the range of social, sporting and cultural activities available, if not on Jefferson's doorstep, at least within a drive of no more than an hour or so. The range and quality of shopping, eating places and other civic amenities were apparent even to me, and as an educator I could see very clearly that it would be worth moving to Jefferson just for the quality of the school system.
In his play "Coriolanus," Shakespeare poses the question "What is the city but the people?" What he was getting at applies to counties, too. In my short stay in Jefferson I met nothing but kindness, consideration and the warmest hospitality. Why was such warmth extended to me and my colleagues? Perhaps because we came in a spirit of friendship and showed an interest in the vibrant community in which we found ourselves. These sentiments were returned a hundredfold by fine people whom it was a privilege to meet and whom I am now proud to number among my friends.
Those same people are there at the end of Ms. Adams' dirt road and if she were to approach them in the right spirit she'll get the same welcome we did.
Best wishes to my friends in Jefferson.
Sincerely,
William Crossan
Rector
Campbeltown Grammar School

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