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THE BRUNSWICK ^BEACON
Edward M. Sweatt and Carolyn H. Sweatt Publishers
Edward M. Sweatt Editor
Lynn S. Carlson Managing Editor
Susan Usher /Veu>s Editor
Doug Rutter Sports Editor
Eric Carlson Staff Writer
Peggy Earwood Office Manager
Carolyn H. Sweatt Advertising Director
T'mberley Adams. Cecelia Gore
and Linda Cheers Advertising Representatives
Dorothy Brennan and Brenda Cleminons Moore ..Graphic Artists
William Manning Pressman
Lonnie Sprinkle Assistant Pressman
Tammle Henderson Photo Technician
PAGE 4 -A, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 16. 1993
Personnel Shuffling Looks Like
Same Stale Political Agenda
The Brunswick County Commissioners were correct in
quashing County Manager Wyman Yelton's behind-the-scenes
request to hire former County Manager Billy Carter as a consul
tant to address county water, sewer and other needs.
In the first place, Carter appears willing enough to share the
wisdom of his experience with Yelton and some of the commis
sioners without being paid any more county tax dollars to do so.
* In the second place, the county manager's job is by no means too
big a task for one man. despite Yelton 's frequent claims of being
buried under the demands of the position.
Yelton's requests to his board arc troubling on several levels.
They are not, for the most part, fresh ideas. The notion of placing
Emergency Management Coordinator Cecil Logan under Eme
rgency Medical Director Doug Ledgett is recycled from the June
budget proposal of former Interim County Manager John Harvey.
And the rumor that Kelly Barefoot would be relieved of her du
ties as county manager's secretary pre-dated Mr. Yelton's appear
ance on the scene by several months.
It seems obvious that Mr. Yelton didn't undertake the two de
motions simply because his assessment indicated those were ur
gent things to do. His public rationale went like this: "The less
people that answer to me over all. the better manager I will be for
But anyone who knows anything about Cecil Logan's work
habits and loyalties has a pretty good idea that Logan hasn't been
hanging around Yelton's door looking for excuses to monopolize
his time. As for Yelton's demotion of Kelly Barefoot, we can't
help thinking of it this way: if you're a new manager over
whelmed by the complexity of the job, getting rid of your very
experienced secretary is not a smart early move.
The only logical conclusion is that Yelton is feeling some
pressure to implement a stale old agenda whose roots are in
grudges and political posturing that existed long before he be
came part of the process. That's too bad for him, because when
some of the proposals fail to gain majority support ? even though
he might have been assured they would? he'll be left to take the
That's also too bad for the citizens of Brunswick County, be
cause every minute devoted to petty politics is time that could
have been spent on making county government more responsive
and responsible to them.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Rose Says Cable TV
Bill Is ' Pro-Consumer '
To the editor:
I have heard from a number of
citizens recently who wonder why
the cable regulation bill passed by
Congress last year has caused their
cable bills to increase. New rates es
tablished hy the Federal Commu
nications Commission went into ef
fect in most communities on Sept. 1.
The cable reform bill is one of the
most pro-consumer bills passed by
Congress in recent years, but the in
tent of the law is not to turn the ca
ble industry over to the federal gov
ernment. In cases where a cable
company can show that an increase
in basic service rates is in line with
the actual cost of doing business, in
creased rates may be allowed. What
this bill will do is prevent cable
companies who enjoy monopolies in
their communities from overcharg
ing consumers for basic cable ser
In 1984, Congress deregulated the
cable industry with the hope that
freeing up the market would pro
mote competition, making the cost
of cablevision less expensive. Eight
years later, the average rate con
sumers pay for cable nationwide had
increased more than 60 percent, far
outstripping the rate of inflation.
The intent of the new law is to
bring basic cable rates into line with
rates in communities where compe
tition exists, and to establish stan
dards for customer service. In addi
tion to rate reductions, most Ameri
cans are also seeing the costs of
equipment and cable installation go
For those who have not seen their
rates go down, it is important to re
member that every cable system is
different, and that there will need to
be further adjustments to ensure that
rates accurately reflect costs.
Congress will continue to work
closely with the Federal Communi
cations Commission to ensure that
the cable industry is in full compli
ance with the regulations.
Rep. Charlie Rose
D- 7th District, U.S.
House of Representatives
We Deliver Even
To the editor:
A letter with this address was re
ceived at the South Brunswick
Branch Post Office Aug. 30:
To the people who live in the
tan house on a cul-de-sac
which is next door to a grey
house on the corner where an
old black Subaru is parked in
the driveway on the back nine
of a golf course community
We have found the party that it
belongs to and have delivered it.
This is your Postal Service in action.
We deliver even if you don't have an
address to go by.
With all our bad press lately we
thought you might be interested to
know that despite all odds we still
do one heck of a job.
Make A Difference
To the editor:
This is a letter for the people of
our community. We can do some
thing about pollution in our town
and other towns throughout Amer
Men and women fight for our
country every day. But still we con
tinue to poUute the air we breathe
and the water we drink. If you were
to take a survey of ten people in the
United States and ask them if they
recycle, nine would probably say no.
We need to give those men and
women who are willing to fight for
us something to be proud to fight
for. We need to clean up America,
starting with our own back yard.
Together we can make a differ
ence. I'm encouraging each and
every citizen to do the following: re
cycle, pick up trash along the road
as you're walking, and don't burn
chemicals that may be hazardous to
Nichole Reaves, age 1 1
(More Letters, Following Page)
Living The Cable-Free Life;
It Isn't Fatal
Charlie Rose ? the congressman,
not the PBS talk show host ? says
the confounding new federal cable
television act is "one of the most
pro-consumer hills passed by Con
gress in recent years."
Okay, but how come my bill went
up a dollar and 40 cents?
Its purpose. Rose says, is to
"bring basic cable rates into line
with rates in communities where
competition exists, and to establish
standards for customer service."
That's very noble but, again, how
come my bill went up a dollar and
It used to be so simple ? even as
recently as 18 months ago, when
Eric and I lived on a mountainside a
mile up a dirt road where cablevi
sion feaied to tread.
You plugged in the set. pulled up
the rabbit ears, waved them around a
little, and you got two channels ?
well, only one on a northwest wind,
and both too snowy to videotape.
You invested a buck in one of those
circular antennas that screws into
the back of the set, and PBS would
come in clear as a bell.
I have to admit having been excit
ed about getting cable television
when we moved here. I'd never seen
"Yan Can Cook" or "The Urban
Peasant" or "Cuisine Rapide." Eric
would be able to predict good surf
by tuning into The Weather Chan
nel's hourly Tropical Update. It was
all so new and exotic.
It took us a couple of months to
figure out how to set the "on-screen
programming" features of the VCR
through our 12-year-old television
set; consequently we were pleasant
ly surprised that, with just one ex
perimental button flick, we got 31
channels instead of 12.
To that point, we'd hardly used
the VCR for anything at all except
to play rental tapes. It was like man
na from electronic heaven.
But when the new wears off, you
realize that having cable is like hav
ing a VCR or air conditioning or a
car phone. If you're a reasonably
well-adjusted person, you appreciate
the extra comfort those amenities
add to your daily life, but coping
with the loss of any one of them is
really not such a big deal.
That's why I have a hard time un
derstanding why people get so fired
up about their cable service, or lack
In my personal case, the cable
television I get is more than ade
quate for my family's viewing
needs. And if the infinitely wise
Congress of the United States
chooses to protect me, the consumer,
by mandating that my bill be jacked
a buck forty, I can probably fish
enough change out of the sofa cush
ions to cover it.
If, on the other hand, my cable
service failed to satisfy me. or if |
perceived my rate as exorbitant. I'd
simply quit subscribing and some
how make do in this life with what
came in through the rabbit ears
even if that meant no television
whatsoever. I'd give anything if |
had the same freedom of choice
when it came to, say, car insurance.
Having cable is better than not
having cable. Especially when it's a
rainy Sunday afternoon and there's a
Joan Crawford movie on TNT. And
if you're wide awake at 3 a.m. and
need help numbing your mind,
there's nothing like the fare on late
late night TV to get you slouching
But it's not THAT much better.
As I used to tell my son when he
was little and afraid to go to sleep
after watching some scary show.
"Settle down. Remember, it's only
"Re - *
Lynch Mob Ought To Think Twice
About Who Stands To Win Or Lose
It's been a long time since I've
seen a verbal lynch mob in action.
All the group that showed up at
the last Shallotte town board meet
ing lacked was a tree and a piece of
rope. It was among the rudest and
most self-centered groups I've had
the privilege of witnessing.
Their chosen victim ? General
Manager Russell Price of Atlantic
Telephone Membership Corp. They
had him cornered; Price could either
turn his backs on town aldermen,
who he had come to address, or the
crowd. Guess which he did?
He had been invited to the town
board meeting to talk about cable
television but didn't really get much
of a chance as stunned leadership al
lowed the meeting to get out of
One apparently well-intended
town alderman had invited the out
of-town guests to attend the meet
ing, since they had an expressed in
terest in area cable TV service. For
information, he said, so they could
hear what Price had to say.
But that Tuesday night crowd
didn't come to listen; they came to
rant, to rave, to make below-the-belt
shots at ATMC and to personally in
sult Price. Price took the blows like
the gentleman he is and tried to an
swer their questions courteously.
It wasn't just what they said, it
was how they behaved. Speakers
yelled out without identifying them
selves or asking permission to
speak; addressed their remarks to
Price, not the chair; interrupted Price
and town board members while they
were speaking. One local business
man set out to play a wicked "Guess
Which New Technology I'm
Thinking Of' game with Price that
few in the audience could follow.
It was a pity party on a grand
scale: Poor me, I have a $l,000-plus
television that came with all kinds of
bells and whistles and it's all your
fault I can't use them.
It seemed like all they wanted to
know was when ATMC plans to get
rid of the converter boxes that are
"robbing" them of the technological
capabilities that came with their ex
Susan w 7~w
pensive "cable-ready" TVs ? even if
it requires ripping out and replacing
every bit of ATMC's existing tech
nology and passing on the cost to
For the audience members, their
grievances are very real. They think
they are "due" more and better ser
vices, like those provided by sys
tems that serve larger towns and
cities and have a much larger cus
tomer base and more densely popu
lated service delivery area. They
want no black boxes, lots more
channels ? and cheaper prices at the
Call me provincial. I was sitting
there thinking about all the people
on the ATMC telephone system who
still don't have any cable television
service at all. They get to choose
among three Wilmington stations
and WUNJ. For me, getting cable to
this group would be the highest pri
But ATMC is nicer and is trying
to do more for both groups. The
changes were hinted at during the
co-op's annual meeting last October
and are becoming a reality: exten
sion of service to new areas of the
county while adding on another
half-dozen channels and upgrading
some of the system's basic technolo
gy. (Notice: the black boxes are
staying, not going away.)
Change is occurring rapidly in
home consumer electronics prod
ucts ? like those TVs manufacturers
claim are "cable-ready" but that
aren't compatible with the technolo
gy used by many cable providers,
not just ATMC.
Change and advance are also by
words in the technology available to
cable operators. Their choosing new
system hardware and software is
like one of us trying to decide on up
grading a home or business comput
er. By the time a new system's in
stalled. it could be obsolete. When
do you jump in? At what price is it
feasible, affordable? When is the old
system not adquate?
Some ATMC cable customers are
eager to invite in competition, to
show ATMC what a "real" cable
company can do. Competition can
be healthy, but it's better when the
teams are playing on the same field.
Other companies might be inter
ested in franchises in Sunset Beach
or Calabash, but I don't know of any
profit-motivated company that
would do what AFMC Cable did
back in 1982: take on serving rural
Brunswick when no one else would
because there was no money to be
made. The member-owned coopera
tive lost big bucks on cable TV over
more than half of the system's 11
year existence. It took those terrible
black boxes and a growing customer
base to start turning a profit.
Many of us still wouldn't have ca
ble now if we had waited for a com
mercial company to provide it.
We can undermine ATMC's posi
tion if we like by refusing to grant
the co-op a franchise in more dense
ly populated places like Calabash
and Sunset Beach or granting addi
tional franchises to competing com
panies. Either would make it more
difficult for ATMC's cable division
to stay in business and serve the cus
tomers left in its more rural areas. It
could push the price per customer up
so high as to become unaffordable.
And that, for any ATMC con
sumer-member, whether they are
served by ATMC's cable TV or not.
would not be good news.
The crowd at that Tuesday night
meeting is missing the big picture.
I This much 1 do know ? that a society so driven that the spirit of
moderation is gone, no court can save; that a society where
that spirit flourishes, no court need save; that in a society
which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the
nurture of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish.
? Learned Hand
I I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the
intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am
ungrateful to those teachers.
? Kahlil Gibran
| If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better
care of myself.
? Eubie Blake
| Modesty and unselfishness ? these are virtues which men
praise ? and pass by.
? Andre Maurois
I The young man who has not wept is a savage, and the old man
who will not laugh is a fool.
? George Santayana
I A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking
about real money.
? Everett Dirksen