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A little bit about a lot

            Lack of long range plan at Tate Depot bodes poorly – The county has been gifted a very expensive, and very grand, model train set – but you can’t let that one gift set a course for the entire building without plan. The county is now funding interior renovations – to include the donated train set – but doesn’t have any solid ideas about how to get the building open to the public. Not good.          

            For a brief period in the early 2000s our current commission chair Kris Stancil served as the chamber director, and the chamber building housed a marble museum. It wasn’t a disaster, but it was a problem – how is your chamber staff supposed to go to meetings with a busload of folks in your museum? One possible plan we’ve heard tossed around is that they hope to find a retailer to move in to half of the depot and operate their business while also answering questions about model train sets. This isn’t likely to work any better than when Stancil had to run a chamber office and museum at the same time. [Exception being a model trains/railroad business.] A plan is needed to keep this project on track for success.  

            Time to re-think the Marble Festival – We have made the observation before in this space that the Apple Festival, 20 miles to the north, clogs local roads more than our own Marble Festival. At one time the Marble Festival was the biggest event in the community, but it hasn’t kept pace as other festivals in the region have grown. This marks the second year in a row the Marble Festival has been cancelled due to COVID. We say, ripe opportunity to break a 39-year tradition and rethink from the ground up – location, time of year, theme, name. Start from scratch. Maybe there isn’t a better idea for a fall festival, but a fresh breath of life is sorely needed for the yearly festival.

            Be clear and consistent with water and sewage capacity – One thing that has kept pace with growth elsewhere (at least in the past months) is the desire of developers to locate residential projects here. A constant question in public hearings is “do we have enough water and sewage capacity for this?”

            With city hall veterans in the development and water departments, we’ll trust they are keeping an eye on this. But the public needs to have confidence that Jasper has the infrastructure and raw water supply for the growth. There is a moratorium of sorts in place on development here – plans in the pipeline are still active and it’s hard to tell how many those may number.

            We’d encourage Jasper City Hall to present ironclad numbers often, not just when the questions about water supply and sewage capacity arise.

            Being outfront and upfront for all who care to listen, we’ll know where we stand. Furthermore, presenting information on a regular basis prevents any insinuations down the road of favoritism with the resources.

            We’ll miss you Becky Denney – Commissioner Becky Denney has announced her retirement from public service after more than two terms in office. Denney was one of the original multi-member commissioners when the county switched from a sole commissioner form of government. As a commissioner, Denney was a friend to the public – attentive to needs, responsive, with an eye on the bottom line for taxpayers. She was consistent, business-minded and level-headed with county decisions, a true public servant. She’ll be missed.

            We’ll miss you too, Simple Man – When our humor columnist Caleb Smith first approached us about a column, we agreed to try a few to see how it went. And it went very well for four solid years before announcing this week’s marks his last regular piece. While Caleb portrayed himself as bumbling in his columns, he was anything but. His columns showed up on time, well-written and funny with him rarely missing a week. People noticed – he was popular here and with newspaper contests. During his four years, he never failed to place in the top ranks of humor writing, winning the Georgia Press humor column plaque for first place this past year.

            We like having something funny on our editorial page. Everyone needs a little levity in times like these.

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