Tag Archives: Georgia

UPDATES: Walker County and great Frying Pan vs. Skillet debate

With all the insanity in America’s politics, I am pleased to report that one positive in this mess has occurred. Though old news, the new Sole Commissioner, High Commander and Eternal Leader of Walker County, Georgia is now firmly entrenched in his new position. Shannon Whitfield, who was able to easily defang and disembowel Bebe Heiskell in the 2016 election by a score of 3 trillion neurons to 2.1, is apparently managing to score points with voters on the simple fact that he keeps schedules consistent and has not traded away star players to the opposition in exchange for defensive coordinators who blow 20 point leads in the Super…oh crap, I’ve got the Atlanta Falcons on the brain. Sorry.

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Shannon Whitfield.  Wait, wasn’t this guy in a Super Bowl commercial for avocados?

Whitfield, despite his obviously improved status as Not Being Bebe Heiskell, has still rankled some voters by posting edited county commission meetings online instead of the raw feeds. Walker County gods on high, however, are apparently pleased with Whitfield’s performance, as a recent 1.8 earthquake indicates (previous earthquakes have been in the 4s, meaning Heiskell’s soul has obviously arrived at Satan’s mailbox, postage due.) Still, the City of LaFayette continues to function as always, with its fine collection of shops, gas stations, and a convenience store actually named “Yanks” (seriously.) It also continues to enjoy its status as Unofficial Job Haven for Wanted Criminals, as the county has had apparent known of a wanted criminal from Colorado working as a 911 dispatcher for the county for some time. Perhaps the Heiskell curse continues, but large predatory bird sightings are on the wane, so there has be obvious improvement – such as employees actually being able to now cash their paychecks.

No word as to whether “Thad” was available for comment. (rim shot)

This, however, pales in comparison to a far more serious matter facing our nation today from a political standpoint. Today, this writer took the liberty of challenging the political status quo and asking an ultra-controversial question: what the hell is the difference between a skillet and a frying pan?

A query which has dogged cooks for eons, the notion of a frying pan and skillet being different things has been a perplexing issue. Gigantic studies using massive federal block grants issued via presidential tweets have been suggested, especially since the skillet lobby has stated an unofficial goal of “Making Cooking with Skillets Great Again.” Of course, I chose to use the definitive source of wisdom and knowledge to answer this question once and for all…

My Facebook Feed.

My friends/readers/followers/associates of ill refute/various shape-shifting entities from the Gamma Quadrant all weighed in, and the results were very clear: no really knows for sure, and everyone wonders why the hell I was even asking that question. Of course, that would stop me from sharing some of the answers with you, my loyal and delusional reading audience, some of whom are obviously not aware of the need to stay off the road after heavy medicinal or recreational relaxant use.  We know that won’t happen, so here we go – actual answers from actual readers of my feed:

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Until the horse WHACKS you with it. And then you STILL won’t know what to call it!

“A skillet has straight high sides. Same flat wide bottom so u can fry or search, but the the high straight sides like a pot allow us to add more stuff, especially liquids and put on a lid.”

“Geography.”

“Weight. A skillet also says, ‘What’s this non-stick crap???'”

“One of those questions that just simmers…” (Honorable Mention for Best Answer)

“One you fry in, one’s a band.”

“They both cook eggs. So, none.”

and the Best Answer of All, which actually led to me spraying coffee on my monitor in such a fashion several wet wipes were needed…

“The difference between a frying pan and a skillet? The size of the knot on your head if you upset the cook.”

Bear in mind, all these answers are moot when one considers the fact that, when used properly, both pans and skillets make excellent counterweights for mousetraps created by grey and white cartoon cats. Still, we must never forget the most important part of this research, that terminology can vary widely from region to region in our nation, and that such things as “homophones” will always be targeted for persecution by moralist elements who obviously didn’t pay attention in English class.

If you are still unsure about how to approach this debate or how to understand the jokes in this post, feel free to contact Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield’s office. Operators are standing by to hire you now, provided you’ve been arrested in at least one jurisdiction.  I’m putting my application in tomorrow.

Winter Storm Helena: Semi-Serious, Hour-by-Hour sarcasm

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Shown:  Downtown Birmingham after Winter Storm Helena hits it.  Now Shown:  Alabama fans doing donuts in the snow.

Winter Storm and Warrior Princess Helena is nearing the end of her life, and has taken many a casualty.  According to the National Weather Service and Liberal Extremist Propaganda Arm (now under New Management of Trump Political Enterprises), this particular weather system wreaked havoc on several states as well as the Federated Football Republic of Alabama.  Of course, America’s southeastern news outlets kicked into hyperdrive and began their usual “Breaking News Round the Clock First Coverage You Can Count On” routine.

FRIDAY

8:35 AM:  National Weather Service officials, in conjunction with the Russian News Agency TASS, begins issuing “facty” weather alerts about reports of blizzards hitting areas of Mexico, Idaho and the Andromeda Galaxy.

9:45 AM:  Alabama Governor Bob “Northwood” Bentley, in a move of complete foresight and genuine political vision, opts to receive instead of kickoff the storm.

10:22 AM:  Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, upon hearing the choice of his Alabama counterpart, immediately sends Winter Storm Helena to the National Weather Service for booth review, and also alerts the NCAA for possible recruiting violations.

11:11 AM:  Outgoing Alabama offensive coordinator and soon-to-be Florida Atlanta coaching guru extraordinaire Lane Kiffin announces that Winter Storm Helena has delayed his time table for learning organization by “several years.”

11:49 AM:  Georgia DOT officials immediately begin brining all roads and bridges in the Atlanta area.  Alabama DOT officials also begin brining their highways until it’s pointed that pickle juice doesn’t work.

12:45 PM:   Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, exercising extreme intelligence, announces that he will, in fact, be driven home by police escort in his black SUV with blue lights going.  When asked why this was necessary, he refuses comment, but his staff issues a 1,000 word press release about the merits of the Atlanta streetcar’s ice-resistant wheels.

1:18 PM:  Walker County, Georgia officials issue a statement describing the situation in Lafayette as “dire” and “untenable,” until it’s revealed that Bebe Heiskell didn’t actually issue the release, so it’s taken seriously for once.

2:45 PM:  Macon-Bibb County officials, in preparation for the oncoming storm, suddenly remember that I-475 actually runs through their county and maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to treat the road.

3:18 PM:  Cobb County DOT deploys thousands of gallons of brine solution onto local roads and interstates, but the plan is thrown into disarray when the County Commission is sued for a lack of public hearing in the decision.

4:22 PM:  To the south, in Florida, 19 million residents laugh derisively at the rest of the southeast, then light their grills start the ritual winter cookout season.

5:30 PM:  Birmingham is paralyzed when the Heat Miser vanishes and Jack Frost is found in a drunken state on the campus of the University of Alabama.  Lane Kiffin is blamed for the incident.

6:19 PM:  Every single news outlet east of Tupelo, Mississippi goes into all-out DEFCON 1 alert status.  In Atlanta, five stations interrupt popular programming to issue extremely scary, confusing and “facty” weather bulletins.

7:29 PM:  Fearing a shortage of French Toast as a result of the oncoming storm, Atlanta residents buy up almost 9000% percent of all available bread and eggs.  IHOP futures spike in after-hours syrup pouring.

9:45 PM:  An entire hour of news coverage is lost when Winter Storm Helena stops for a moment, looks at Atlanta, scratches head and asks “which way do I really wanna fuck this city up?”

10:18 PM:  News outlets across Atlanta declare an state of intergalactic emergency and call on the United Federation of Planets to fire photon torpedoes at the to intensify it.

12:00 AM til…

SATURDAY

6 AM:  Something happened overnight resulting in a lot of snow and ice in some areas, and nothing but slush in others.  The Russians are believed to have been behind it all.

8:10 AM:  Donald Trump issues a statement saying that Winter Storm Helena did not actually affect Atlanta and promised to “Make I-285 Great Again.”

9:30 AM:  The Atlanta Falcons announce they are going to actually win their playoff game next week in a news release written by former Men’s Wearhouse CEO George Zimmer saying “you’re gonna like the way we play…we guarantee it!”

10:34 AM:  Everyone goes back to sleep

12:19 PM:  Birmingham officials announce they are shutting down the city and that people need to stay off the roadways – Atlanta drivers immediately flood to the city and jam up interstate highways.

3:02 PM:  Winter Storm Helena sends a text message politicians across the southeast which translated roughly into “you my bitches!”

4:19 PM:  We decide it’s too damned cold out, and we’re fresh outta beer!

5:01 PM:  Levi’s takes over the show.

6:11 PM:  Everyone dials directory assistance asking for the number to their governors to complain.

9:00 PM:  NOBODY knows where their Winter Storm is.

10:52 PM:  Time for a nap and just walked outside and shouted at Mother Nature to take her freaking Xanax!

Let the Fallen Rise in Memory: Sign the Petition to Rename Hurricane Field for the fallen Americus and GSW Police Officers

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December 12, 2016 Atlanta Journal-Constitution front page, showing the article reporting on the memorial service for Americus Police Officer Nicholas Smarr.  The service for Officer Jody Smith of GSW Public Safety will be held this week, also on the university campus.

As Americus and the State of Georgia mourn the loss of Officers Nicholas Smarr and Jody Smith, ways to commemorate their sacrifice in the name of serving and protecting their community are now being considered.   To that end, a petition on Ipetition has been set up calling on Georgia Southwestern State University, with the approval of Governor Nathan Deal and the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, to rename Hurricane Field, the home of GSW State’s NCAA Division II Baseball Team, in honor of these officers who gave their lives in the line of duty.  Further, it also calls for permission being granted to place and appropriate memorial to all fallen officers of Sumter County, Georgia on the stadium grounds.

The goal of this petition is to collect 3,000 online signatures to show national, global and community support for this proposal.  While it is, ultimately, the decision of the University and the Board of Regents, this proposal is believed to be an appropriate way to commemorate the sacrifice of not only these officers, but all who died on the thin blue line in Sumter County.

As of 9:48 PM ET on December 12, 2016, over 150 online signatures have been collected.  We ask for signatures of support from not only Americus and Georgia, but around the nation and the world.  Please, show your support for these officers being remembered for their sacrifice in the line of duty.

Ways to turn a small town from “dying” to “thriving.”

While many small towns across America are in the throes of death and decay, there is another side to this story.  Namely, the hope many small towns are giving to communities across the country through stories of innovation, revival and growth.  These stories are proof that small towns can come back from the brink.  It simply takes a collective will to do so.  While many a snake-oil seller comes in from afar on a white horse pitching “can’t miss” schemes to city elders, genuine recovery and revitalization must be done by the residents of these locales.  It is gritty, dirty, hard work which boasts immense rewards in terms of both prosperity and pride.  So, here are some elemental things all small towns must do, either in whole or at least in part, to begin the comeback trail.

Embrace Your Civic Identity.

It’s so easy for a small town to become married to the idea of what they want to be, rather than what they.  Just like a person who decides they want to a police officer or doctor, but has neither the aptitude nor the ability to excel in either position, is often miserable in these professions, so too are towns which attempt to be something other than what they are.  If your city has a college or university which has been there a long time, and not much else, the fact which must be faced is your city is a “college town.”  If your town has a factory which produces auto parts, and just about everything in the town supports that factory, you are a “blue collar” town.  There is no shame in this.  By embracing a civic identity, towns can begin to rebuild and thrive.

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This trailer box is being loaded on a train at an intermodal hub in Cordele, Georgia.  (WALB)

Blue collar towns can use the success of industry to lure other industries.  Cordele, Georgia is an excellent example of this.  Once a decaying city with little hope of improvement, this city has leveraged its location at the intersection of US Highway 280 and Interstate 75 as a prime asset to lure industry.  Cordele now hosts several distribution hubs and, combined with an active rail line, has become an intermodal transfer point for several major companies.  Frozen foods, hardware, heavy goods and such often find their way to terminals located in Cordele and, combined with its centralized location to traffic arteries connecting major port cities such ains Savannah and Tampa with Atlanta, Columbus and other major cities, this once dying town is beginning to make a comeback.  Once a dot on the map trying to market itself as a “throwback” city to yesteryear, civic officials saw their assets and used them to reinvent the town.

Move Forward and Innovate

No small town has seen a more profound transformation in the last 25 years than Homestead, Florida.  This tiny town, located southern Miami-Dade County near the end of Florida’s Turnpike, was home to an Air Force base, some orange groves, a retirement community or two, and not much else.  It was, in essence, a waypoint for vacationers en route to the Keys.  When Hurricane Andrew hit in 1992, Homestead took the absolute hardest hit, with 90 percent of the city destroyed.  Shortly afterwards, the Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommended Homestead AFB be shuttered to take advantage of the so-called “peace dividend” resulting from the end of the Cold War.  Even the Cleveland Indians abandoned the city as a spring training location in favor of a location further north in the state.  So how did Homestead, which was once pronounced a “dead city” by many in the media shortly afterwards, come back?

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In 1992, Homestead, Florida was essentially wiped from existence by Hurricane Andrew.  Today, it is the home of NASCAR’s Championship Weekend.  (NPR)

Civic leaders took a long, hard look and realized they had an immense asset available:  lots of land.  The late Ralph Sanchez, the Miami financier who brought open-wheel racing to South Florida with Miami Grand Prix, pitched the idea of a racetrack to the city.  Reeling from one misfortune after another, the city council could have said “no thanks,” and decided to just founder.  Instead, they took a risk, and did it ever pay off.  Shortly after Homestead-Miami Speedway opened, NASCAR began openly talking about the possibility of a Super Bowl-style championship race to decide the then-Winston Cup Series.  In 2003, Homestead’s speedway become host to the NASCAR Championship Weekend, the first-ever conflux of all of the sport’s title races, including the Sprint Cup Championship.  Homestead soon became as famous as Daytona Beach, and the championship weekend, along with its associated businesses, has helped to revitalize a city once destroyed by nature itself.  Homestead’s answer to utter devastation was simple:  finding hope through innovation and the assets they possessed.

Find the Common Bond

One of the things which tear small towns apart is income and social stratification.  Groups of people cluster together based on profession and money, and it creates resentment and sows the seeds of civic discontent.  While ethnic and socio-economic clustering in major cities ,such as New York and Atlanta, can be managed, they spell doom for small towns because everyone knows everyone else.  When you live “on the wrong side,” of town, people know it.  Residents tend to associated with like-minded, incomed and professioned individuals and, for that reason, small towns can become divided in stark ways which lead to both finger pointing and an unwillingness to work together.  When this sort of failure takes root, the associated division only serves to accelerate a town’s demise.  There are, however, cities which find their common bond, and those are the ones which are able to begin the long comeback to civic pride and prosperity.

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In tiny Conrad, Iowa, residents have taken their town from “dying” to “thriving” through the power of community will. (IPR)

In Conrad, Iowa, this spirit of community has taken a tiny farming community, which was among the hundreds in this state which were dying, back on the road to being a thriving community.  According to the article and program on Iowa Public Radio’s website, the people of Conrad saw what was happening and, rather than tear the community apart through finger pointing, began to come together and find the common ground.  As the article states, the city’s clarion call came in the 1980s when its grocery store was on the verge of closure.  Residents rallied together to save the store, and found they could do much by coming together in a spirit of community.  As stated in the article, “small victories” helped to galvanize residents, and soon Conrad on the comeback trail.  They even developed a motto ‘e pluribus plow em,’ a play on the national motto to highlight their agricultural roots.  Their story has served as inspiration and education for scores of other now-revitalizing cities in Iowa, and this model is now being taken nationally.

Hold the Powerful Accountable

One of the most common refrains among those living in small towns is how power and wealth coalesce into the hands of a privileged few.  Those in power tend to pick and choose who gets what, how much of it, and who is able to “get ahead” in life.  Those who think differently or come from families who are not related to the innermost circles often find themselves on the outside looking in.  These are cities which suffer the most from a “youth flight,” in which the best and brightest of their youngest residents often leave for greener pastures in larger cities or towns willing to accept them.  On the other end of the spectrum are communities which have begun to open their collective eyes, and are now holding those in longtime positions of power and means accountable for situation their cities are in.

While there are few public stories of cities whose citizens have been willing to stand up and say “we’re as mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore,” that sort of mentality can have a positive outcome when channeled effectively.  Well-meaning public servants, rather than those who expect the public to serve them, are the key to revitalization of many small towns.  People with the attitude of the “greater good” instead of “what can my community do for me,” are the individuals who are able to change hearts and minds.  The greatest obstacle to this change however is the final key to small town revitalization projects.

Abandon Preconceived Notions

We all have them; those ideas within our minds of how people are and how things should be.  Rather than looking at life with a critical eye, we assume.  In order for a small town to begin the “great comeback,” all ideas of “the way things ought to be” must be tossed out the window.  It’s time write a new book when your city is dying and you’re trying to save it.  The same old methods obviously don’t work, so those things once held to as standard practice and procedures must ultimately yield to a new thought process.   Once a city’s residents are able to think in more “open” terms (not political correctness but, rather, being open to new concepts of doing business and ways to attract individuals and organizations), change is truly possible.

I invite comments on this post and its related one, as well as testimonials.

SOURCES:

Beating the Odds:  Iowa Public Radio

Cordele, Georgia becomes a transportation hub:  WALB-TV

Miami, South Florida racing fans mourn the loss of Ralph Sanchez:  CBS

 

Five symptoms of a dying small town

Nothing illustrates the current divide in America better than that between small towns and large cities.  Many towns with populations under 30,000 are finding it more difficult than ever to retain, let alone attract, new residents.  These burgs dot America like distant stars in the sky and, while many are finding ways to reinvent themselves into something new and attractive, many more are dying, fading into night through a combination of factors.  Many of these are beyond the control of both residents and officials, but there are some major factors which create the “dead city,” and these factors can be remedied.

A word of warning to those reading this who are living in towns they suspect are dying – it’s time to get real.

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Loyalton, California suffers from a very low population (700) of mostly retirees and a high debt bill for pensions.

Small towns need to face a stark fact; elected officials, by and large, are unconcerned about the well being of a town unless the voters there can organize in such large numbers to threaten them at the polls.  It is a common axiom a politician is concerned about how a town fares only as far as it allows them to stay in office.  Most, if not all, elected officials are averse to changing the status quo because they don’t want risk making voters and, specifically, longtime wealthy residents (a.k.a. “old money”) angry at them.  For many of these elected officials across America, the small-town positions they hold are the highest office they will likely ever achieve.  While many officials in these communities are true servants, many others have become quite comfortable in their jobs and, as a result, the colloquialisms of being “fat and sassy” and “drunk with power” have taken root.

Those elected officials who are both responsible and responsive – not the same thing – are able to recognize these symptoms for what they are, and find ways to help prevent their communities from spiraling into the throes of civic death.  When a city or town has reached this point, the stench of economic and political failure has often permeated so deep into the fabric of the community, businesses and organizations which could come in and revitalize these places often bypass them in favor of locales which possess the necessary ideas, plans and – most important – community and political will to make the hard choices necessary to perform such a turnaround.  It’s time to take a very real look at five key factors which kill small towns.

Lopsided Demographics

Many “dead towns” have one major thing in common; a low population which is unevenly distributed between young, middle, and old.  Cities which are mostly made up of retirees suffer from massive issues with budget deficits and debt, destroying the ability to maintain basic services and causing massive political infighting.  Also within these demographics are income issues; too many folks getting paid too little or, worse still, living in poverty, which create many of the issues in many small cities across America.  It could be Kansas, California, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Florida; too many people with too much money in too few hands, combined with an increase in those approaching an age where working is no longer feasible, is a prescription for fiscal disaster.

A perfect example of this can be found in a New York Times report about the city of Loyalton, California.  This tiny city of 700, once on the front lines of the gold rush, now faces a bill of $1.6 million, more than its entire operating budget, for its share of pension liabilities.  If the bill is not paid, its retired city employees could see their once-guaranteed benefits cut.  When cities don’t attract new residents and businesses, vicious cycles such as these begin.  Poor demographics are the core of the problem, but they lead to a lot of other issues, and many civic leaders refuse to see this one issue as the underlying threat.

Demolished Education Systems

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Americus, Georgia is home to two extremes:  one of Georgia’s best teacher training universities, and one of the state’s worst- performing public high schools.

Sumter County, Georgia is home to Georgia Southwestern State University, considered one of the state’s top public schools for teacher training.  So why was Americus-Sumter County High School ranked near the bottom of the barrel in Georgia in 2015?  Many factors account for this, from political meddling to low teacher pay.  In fact, according to Salary Genius, teachers in Sumter County get paid an average of $10,000 less than their counterparts in Cobb County, Georgia.  As for politics, Sumter County’s Board of Education was, several years back, the subject of state investigations into misappropriation of funds and other violations, leading to a complete overhaul of the Board of Education’s membership.

Problems such as these are just the tip of a political iceberg which has left the entire educational system in Sumter County in shambles.  This is a terrible reality for a county which claims former President Jimmy Carter as its native son.   When an area’s school system is as in such bad a shape as Sumter’s, companies which could bring jobs to an area often pass those cities and counties by in favor of areas with better schools.  In addition, low paying teacher salaries and political meddling have caused many local university grads to seek work elsewhere, causing a “brain drain” which has further hampered the city’s growth.

Endemic Corruption

Unfortunately, for the Peach State, Americus isn’t the only city dealing with what seems like a diagnosis of terminal civic cancer.  Eastman, Georgia is a city which continues to suffer from an image brought to it by an election bribery scandal in 1998, which was documented in George magazine.  Today, this tiny town of just over 5,000 continues to experience high unemployment and poverty and, while the scandals of the late 1990s are a distant memory, the corruption of the past continues to haunt it to this day.

Small towns which suffered from this level of corruption are often paralyzed by a culture of apathy, complacency and fear.  “What can anyone do to us” is the attitude of many who benefit from a combination of overt and covert corruption.  Whether it is no-bid contracts, kickbacks to local officials, or blatant nepotism leading to unqualified individuals given important positions simply based on their political allegiance, such corruption is more than just onerous, it’s bad for business.  No company or organization wants to deal with a city which makes business expensive simply because the right palms aren’t greased.  It’s far easier to set up shop in an area with minimal regulation or, if the city is attractive, a place where leaders will work with businesses, rather than trying to bleed them dry in name of their own personal coffers.  Corruption kills cities; it is a cancer which, without radical surgery in the form of a successful “throw the bums out” movement, is a terminal diagnosis.

Stuck in the Past

Nobody wants to live in a city where nothing ever changes, no matter how small.  Hazleton, Pennsylvania is one city which suffers from severe image issues of this sort.  Hazleton has been struggling with a combination of issues since the coal industry collapse of the 1960s, and its population has yet to recover to its 1980s peak.  While an influx of Latino immigrants has helped fuel a minor economic renewal, Hazleton continues to suffer from an image of being a rust belt city stuck in the past, and low property values combined with high crime and unemployment doesn’t help.  Despite being labelled a poster child for Hispanic urban revitalization by CNN, many longtime residents still feel nothing has changed, and that local politicians have sold them out.  A recent filming of the Fox series “Cops” in Hazleton has residents so worried about how the city is portrayed nationally, the City Council is now being asked to consider halting production.  The primary concern is Hazleton being cast in the light of a backwards town with nothing but problems, and unable to solve them despite revitalization efforts.

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Hazleton, Pennsylvania holds the title of “Pennsylvania’s Highest City” as a result of its elevation.  Unfortunately, this as also been associated, derisively with its dubious reputation as a crime-ridden drug distribution hub.

While nostalgia is a multi-billion dollar industry for cities with vibrant historic districts, many of those cities have had to find that vibrancy through combining history with innovation.  Despite being in the metro Atlanta area, Marietta struggled to find its cultural identity until a full revitalization effort in the city’s historic square.  When civic leaders and longtime business owners teamed up to attract younger residents, the result was a vibrant city center which now features full bars and restaurants on weekends, and busy shops and offices on weekdays.  Marietta is now considered one of Georgia’ s most livable cities and, despite a mild bump in crime over the last few years, has enjoyed a healthy rebound in property values and resident income.  Hazleton, by comparison, continues to suffer from low wages and falling property values and this, combined with its image of a city stuck in time with residents afraid to showcase their town to the world, has only prevented it from moving forward.

Resident Apathy

Perhaps the most insidious and deadly symptoms of a “dead city” is an atmosphere of apathy.  By the time most cities have gotten this far, it’s too late.  Residents have largely given up on the hope of any change; those doing well fall into the “I’m alright, Jack” crowd who are comfortable with their living situation and see no need to change, while those who are struggling either financially or in their personal lives are in a “no way out” mentality and can’t see the forest for the trees.  Some residents have truly legitimate reasons to stay, such as family ties, or sick or infirm relatives, or legitimate business interests.  These residents, however, are now prisoner to the “golden handcuff” trap; unable to move because of the attachment to the city, but unable to speak out for fear their opinions would lead to ruination caused by mass shunning; an all-too-common situation.

On the other end of the spectrum, the poor and impoverished in these towns feel disenfranchised but powerless and, thus, unwilling to do anything for fear of retaliation at the hands of law enforcement and the courts.  Once this particular mentality has set in, it is nearly impossible to change without a radical shift in attitudes, which often come in the form of a crisis of some sort.

Reality must be faced

Small towns and cities which are suffering from these issues, be it all or just a couple, must take a very long, difficult look in the mirror.  It’s not enough put a bandage on the problem; many of a city council have bought into the promises of snake-oil salesmen who claim to have the cure to all their city’s ills.  When cities are foundering, precision and care are essential elements in any turnaround.  Simply tearing everything apart won’t do.  No one will be coming in on a white horse to save the day.

Instead, these cities must find the collective will to do the hard work of seeing things for how they are, rather than how they’ve been told they should be by those in power. Changing the fortunes of any small city in distress and in its death throes requires buy-in from residents who can send a collective message to those in power, and that message must be made loud, clear and in no uncertain terms.

Yes, it is time to get real and get to work.

Hurricane Matthew: Share your stories here

If you are an evacuee from Hurricane Matthew in Florida or Georgia or riding out the storm, I am inviting you to share your accounts about the storm on this page in the comments section.  It doesn’t matter what the story is – it could be a one line tale or heroism or a three paragraph price gouging complaint.  You are welcome here, and hopefully can find some fellowship and camaraderie.ir_enhanced_storm3_1

After the storm clears, I will invite you all to share your experiences and feeling about the hurricane, government responses, charity assistance and whatever ever strikes you.

My memories of the 2004 hurricane season are forever etched in my memory and I will do whatever it takes to help anyone in the path of a hurricane feel a sense of comfort and normalcy.  Please, share this with everyone, and stay safe.  My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

 

Hermine Update:  Gentlemen, start your generators and Xboxes

Hurricane Hermine is poised to hit the Big Bend area of Florida tonight with up to 90 mph winds, heavy rains, swells and enough news sensationalism to power ratings for at least three years past the current election cycle.  News outlets all across the region have sprung into action, activating teams of reporters, throngs of meteorologists, and legions of “spotters” looking for their chance for the $10,000 prize and a shot at “America’s Favorite Attention Hog.”

The suggested storm track of Hermine puts it approximately 100 miles northwest of Cedar Key, too far for any beach bar indulging, but well within reach of Tallahassee, and its famous Tennessee Street party district but, much like the Florida General Assembly, this area has appeared to have cleared out.  Florida Governor Rick Scott, in a stunning moment of clarity, ordered a State of Emergency declared, which he later told reporters was “privileged information” and, having been sent from his private account long before Hillary Clinton cleared out for her next fundraiser, was not subject to state open records laws.  Georgia Governor Nathan Deal lost the game for the Peach State when he fumbled the declaration and Scott recovered it.  Deal issued a partial declaration hours later but, by then, the game was already a blowout.  The rematch is set for late November in Jacksonville.

We are pleased to report that news stations across South Georgia are up and running in their “Storm Centers,” featuring “live, local, late breaking” reports consisting of reporters replaying and re-narrating video shot several hours prior.  We are also pleased to report that no news anchors, weather anchors or sportscasters were harmed in the making of said reports.  We can’t say the same of radio broadcasters, as many are reported to be holed in the same studios they’ve been in since 2012, eating the same freeze dried food purchased by station management to survive the Mayan apocalypse.  Zombie sightings have been filed near radio stations in Tallahassee and Albany but it is believed these are just station employees suffering the effects of “food insurance hangover.”

Finally tonight, we must pay tribute to our athletes who are caught in this storm.  Hermine has commit an act of blasphemy as many high school football games across Georgia and Florida have been rescheduled.   Reports of exorcisms being performed at high school venues are unsubstantiated, but at least one fan is blaming Hermine for the upcoming Georgia Bulldogs season, saying “might as well get it out of the way now.”

Well, that’s all we have here at storm central.  Have a safe evening and please, don’t try this at home unless of course you’re at home in the path of the storm and, in that case, have lots of quality adult beverage standing by, along with a generator with which to plug in your Xbox and modem.