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PAGE 4-A, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 1994
New Panel Has Fair
Mix, Worthy Agenda
The county's new Zoning Overlay Committee represents a
fair mix of interests with a worthwhile agenda.
The committee, appointed by the county commissioners
Monday night, includes two environmental activists, two real es
tate brokers, a farm supply dealer and a retired industry supervi
sor. Their considerable task will be threefold:
? to identify resources along the Cape Fear River worthy of,
and eligible for, protection in the public interest;
? to identify interests related to land-use policy and collect
comments and evidence about how county policies impact indus
try and the environment;
? to make recommendations for actions to address concerns,
including the creation of overlay districts.
The group will probably begin its work a little awkwardly, its
members coming to the table from such disparate points of view.
However, these can be the circumstances under which the dogma
of individuals evolves into something more serving of a reason
The issues on the table need to be addressed ? and not just
when communities feel threatened by alarming new kinds of de
velopment. Eliminating problems by anticipating them can con
serve not just the environment, but peoples' time, stress and ener
Bridging The Ditch
Reprinted From The Charlotte Observer
Residents of tiny Sunset Beach are right: The quaint pontoon
bridge linking the mainland with the small Brunswick County is
land ought to be saved. But not where it is.
The 30-year-old contraption is a delight to watch in action as
horns wail and windlasses crank. But it belongs in a museum
somewhere. As a working bridge across the Intracoastal
Waterway, it's a menace to navigation and a potentially life
threatening obstacle to evacuation in an emergency.
Those who have used the bridge can understand its allure. It
harkens to another era, to an unspoiled coastal paradise where the
fishing and the living are feasy, where no one is in a hurry to get
there and no one's in a hurry to leave. It is as picturesque as a
covered bridge or a white-steepled country church.
The floating pontoon bridge, which swings to the northeast to
open every hour on the hour and whenever a commercial vessel
approaches, is ideally suited to serving the populace for which it
was built. But the day passed long ago when it served only 50
homes; there are now 750 homes on the island and more going
up every year; hundreds of visitors, and sometimes thousands,
come for a day on the beach or to walk across Mad Inlet to Bird
Island. The one-lane pontoon bridge simply isn't sufficient to
carry the traffic.
Perhaps the most compelling argument to keep the bridge in
place is that its inefficiency, and its occasional malfunction,
would discourage more coastal development and hold down traf
fic on the Waterway. That combination, one theory goes, might
somehow reduce the potential for pollution from passing boat
traffic or excessive development. But the truth is that develop
ment and water traffic will continue to grow no matter what the
state does, and the old swing bridge will well-serve neither the
population nor the traffic. North Carolina needs better tools to
protect its coast.
Sunset Beach residents would be wiser to work with the state
Department of Transportation to choose the most suitable alterna
tive to the pontoon bridge. But they ought to demand that the
state preserve the swinging nontnrm hHHop in an appropriate
nearby coastal setting as a working reminder of the community's
heritage and its ingenuity. If Sunset Beach lovers are as inventive
as the budge's builder, they can have their bridge and cross it,
Wc need something for kids to do
after school, someplace for them to
go so they'll stay out of mischief.
You, like me, probably can't
count the number of times you've
heard that lament. But do you know
anyone trying to do something about
it? I do, and today she and her co
horts are disappointed, but not dis
Linda Shaddix, Safe Schools pro
ject coordinator for the Brunswick
County Schools, had helped draft a
grant application submitted by the
Brunswick County Education Foun
dation (BCEF), which is serving as
the legal "umbrella" for the county's
very young Communities in Schools
They asked the N.C. Department
of Human Resources for $200,000
from the state's new Support Our
Students (SOS) programs. The
General Assembly provided an ini
tial appropriation of $5 million to
fund after-school programs for stu
dents in grades K-9.
Brunswick County planned to es
tablish a comprehensive program for
Resources lo Plug Big Hoie
all county middle schools, offering
after-school enrichment activities,
recreation, homework assistance, tu
toring and perhaps other choices,
"using lots of volunteers and some
"It's a great idea and a real need,"
says Shaddix. "It would plug up a
Some of the money was to go to
ward hiring a half-time coordinator
at each of the four sites ? Letand,
South Brunswick, Shallottc and
Waccamaw ? to oversee the volun
teers and ensure a safe setting, and
to buy materials and supplies. But
the bulk of the cash would have
been used to remove one of the
biggest obstacles in Brunswick
County for any type of service pro
gram: lack of transportation. Bus
drivers would have been hired to get
the kids home.
"Otherwise we wouldn't have
been a'uic ?o have the program. A lot
of the kids come from poor families
and without transportation would
not be able to participate," Shaddix
But Brunswick County didn't get
the money when the grant awards
were announced last Wednesday
morning. Malcolm McDonald, who
works with the SOS program, said
several other applicants showed
greater need through statistics such
as a higher school dropout rate and
higher juvenile crime rate.
"We were most disappointed,"
said Shaddix. "We were really hop
ing to implement the program. It's a
need I consistently hear, that the
kids arc idle and have no where to
go and nothing to do after school."
Shaddix and company plan to
keep looking for the funds and peo
ple needed to roll those buses.
"There are other grants and other
resources. We're going to keep look
ing, and we're anxious to work with
other agencies, organizations and lo
cal churches," she said. "Somehow
we'll get it done."
it's possible that the program
could be pulled together without
paid staff, but that would take some
incredible volunteers. People who
could be there on a reliable sched
ule, week in and week out; who
could deal with difficult situations
and difficult people; and coordinate
the efforts of others.
If you or someone you know is
interested in helping "plug a big
hole" by volunteering your time,
know-how or other resources, this is
one lady who would be glad to hear
from you. Give I.inda Shaddix a call
at 754-9282 or 457-5241, or write
her care of the Brunswick County
Public Schools. 8360 River Road,
Southport, N.C. 28461.
? ? ?
Dealing with disappointment is
always a challenge, as rny husband
and I have recently been reminded.
Wc had been ecstatic, joyful, at
the prospect of becoming parents for
the first time, however belatedly,
and our friends had shared the ex
More recently they have also
shared our disappointment following
a miscarriage and helped us move
Unlike some other passages, our
society doesn't have a ritual for
helping cope with this kind of loss,
as many others have discovered be
fore now We've been fortunate to
have birth families and a church
family that have been there for us
through the excitement and the pain,
and are wonderfully supportive and
We've been reminded how much
even the simplest gesture ? a card, a
flower, a phone call, a visit, can
mean to someone who is hurting. As
a result. I suspect we'll be "finding"
more time for those small niceties
that wc have neglected so often in
The Man Who Could See Around Comers
My man!" Lee Atwater yelled in
to the receiver with the raspy voicc
that would someday be familiar to
all followers of American politics.
"How's that 'cue?"
It was 1976 and the man who
would come to be the architect of
modern presidential election strate
gy was trying to sell a Columbia,
S.C., barbecue joint owner on the
idea of booking Billy and Benny
McCrary, World's Fattest Twins, to
ride mini-bikes around the restaurant
parking lot and draw a pork -craving
Lee's desk was one of six in the
single room that served as business
office, newsroom and advertising
department of the Cayce-West Co
lumbia Journal. Mine was on the
left with the reporters; Lee's was on
the right with the ad salesmen.
We were all smiling, listening to
Lee's side of the conversation,
watching him waving his arms and
pacing as far as the phone cord
would let him. Everyone knew he'd
talk the guy into it.
I hadn't thought about Lee much
since he died of a brain tumor. Then
I was reading Newsweek and ran
across his picture in an excerpt from
All's Fair, the new book by James
Carville and Mary Matalin. It struck
me that seven months before Lee -4
died he IuuauI cAdtiiy as he did in
college ? which, in grey suit,
starched shirt and wing-tip shoes,
was nothing like your average 1970s
I crossed paths with him almost
daily for several years back then ? in
the bowels of Carolina Coliseum,
where we attended the University of
South Carolina School of Jour
nalism. In the State House, where I
was a page in the House of Rep
resentatives and he was working
with a greenhorn legislator by the
name of Carroll Campbell. And lat
er, at the Journal, my first job after
graduation and Ixe's tenth that year
"Atwater's main talent was that
he understood the pulse of the
press," Matalin writes in All's Fair.
"He described it as being able to
'see around corners.' He knew what
the press would think was a story
and where they would go with it,
how to create a story and keep focus
I'm sure. Even back when I knew
him, it was obvious that this very
straight-looking but very wild guy
naa a shrewd streak a mile long. He
always knew what would work,
though sometimes people would
have too little nerve or too much
decorum to follow his suggestions.
Lee wasn't the world's greatest ad
salesman ? largely. I suspect, be
cause instead of servicing accounts,
he was busy hanging around the leg
islature or running some shuck like
the McCrary brothers' deal
He didn't spend a whole lot of
time in the office, and he got more
personal telephone calls than anyone
I've ever known ? from politicians,
bill-collectors, professional 'rasslers,
you name it.
He handled them all with the
same unabashedness that would lat
er drive him to get on stage with
B B King and blissfully play the
blues with precisely the degree of
soul you'd expect from a white-boy
Republican. How he sounded
wouldn't have been the point.
Seizing an opportunity like that
while he was in a position to pull it
off would have been.
One Friday in '76, he took me to
where the McCrary Brothets were
staying so I could write a feature
story about them. He orchestrated
the interview, alternately telling me
what to ask them, and them how to
answer. Instead of my shooting a
picture of the brothers, which would
have been the journalistically correct
thing to do, I jcc had a different idea.
"Put her in the peanut butter and
jelly sandwich, boys," be said, yan
king the camera from around my
neck In a second, I was off my feet
and lost in the incredible abdominal
mass of the McCrarys ? all 1,500
pounds of them It was a sensation
not unlike being pinned by a couple
of waterbed mattresses
I cracked up. The brothers
cracked up And the shutter clicked.
..... i nam hmim oe inUMO NWI
government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the
government of others? Or have we found angels in the
forms of kings to govern him? Let history answer this
question. ? Thomas Jefferson
?A man always has two reasons for what he does ? a good
czc, azd rss! czs. ? Toha Pterpoat Morgu
ml loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who
haven't s*M the guts to bite people themselves.
? August Strtndberg
Neck- Deep In
The Big Muddy
Now that Jimmy Carter has pulled Bill Clinton's tail
out ot another tire, it will be very interesting to see how
the president and his band of merry pranksters try to
make us believe
Haiti was a good
idea after all.
how things play
out down there,
the fact remains
that Clinton was
poised to cause
the deaths of a
lot of people,
some of them American servicemen, simply because he
couldn't figure out anything better to do.
Unless the public's famous short attention span
comes into play, the president's bone-headed Haitian
policy should be nail in the coffin of his re-election
hopes. (As long as the Republicans don't nominate
By the time you read this, Clinton damage-control
efforts will be well under way. The president will be
portrayed as a forceful and decisive leader, willing to
project U.S. power in defense of democracy and blah,
All those Democrat senators and congressfolks who
have been hiding under rocks for the past few days wiii
emerge to assure the president they were behind him
Actually, they've been praying this would all blow
over before they were forced tn nnhliratly oppose their
own president to save their political necks.
A week ago, congressional leaders were pulling
every trick in the book to keep from going on record in
support or opposition to a Haiti invasion. Now they can
stand up and say that, although they had some reserva
tion about the use of force, their fearless leader has
again demonstrated blah, blah, blah...
What a difference a day makes.
Last week Democrat senators were admitting they
couldn't muster IS votes in favor of invading Haiti.
The situation wasn't much better in the House. Polls
showed the American public opposed to the idea by a
margin of two-to-one.
But he was going to do it anyway. The paratroopers
were in the air. Which indicates to me that Bill Clinton
has teamed nothing from history and is willing to ig
nore the will of the people to pursue some twisted polit
ical purpose of his own.
I'm not one of those who automatically condemned
Clinton for protesting against the war in Vietnam.
While some may quibble about when the errors began,
few would argue that our Southeast Asia adventure was
anything but a major mistake. So opposing those poli
cies can't be all wrong.
What bothers me is that Clinton either didn't under
stand what he was protesting against or hasn't grasped
the lessons it provides.
Tnere were two critical mistakes of the Vietnam War
that even generals and demonstrators can agree upon.
The first and most obvious is that the U.S. should
never send troops to die in a conflict without the full
understanding and su^puii uf ine American peopie. The
second is that we can't create a stable democracy out of
a political system that is inherently corrupt.
Clinton ignored both those lessons. There was ab
solutely no reason to rush into an invasion of Haiti, no
immediate threat to U.S. interests. This was no Cuban
If military intervention was the right course of ac
tion, why didn't the president make a serious effort to
convince us? Why did he assemble an invasion force
and wait until a few days before the attack before ad
dressing the nation about his intentions?
Members of congress suggested months ago that the
U.S. should send former President Carter to negotiate a
peaceful withdrawal of the Haitian generals. Why did
Clinton wait until our ships were poised offshore and
planes were in the air before making his case?
Could it be that he knew the American people would
never support an invasion of Haiti?
Why should they? The idea that we were doing this
"to restore democracy in Haiti" is a farce. There has
never been democracy in Haiti, just a series of murder
ous regimes established and maintained by internal ter
Haiti is probably the most corrupt country in the
Western Hemisphere. It is also the poorest. Which is
the real tragedy. But it's not a problem that can be
solved by a U.S. invasion.
Assembling the massive military means to rattle our
sword off Haiti has already cost American taxpayers
billions of dollars. That much money could have fund
ed a serious humanitarian effort to build some kind of
l<u>iiiig cCofknTik base there. New it's b?**> <uiu?r.iered.
Even without the big invasion, thousands of U.S.
troops are likely to be bogged down in Haiti for
months, if not years. The "temporary" forces we sent to
Somalia have just returned, leaving the same warlords
in power that caused the famine we went to stop.
Likewise in Haiti, we are liable to be sucked further
and further into a misguided attempt to create order
where none has ever existed.
Which reminds me of an old protest song by Pete
Seeger, one that Bill Clinton will remember from his
demonstration days. Using the metaphor of crossing a
river, the lyrics describe America's growing involve
ment in Vietnam and President Lyndon Johnson's re
fusal to reconsider his policies.
Between verses, the refrain sucks us in up to our an
kles, our knees, our waist and our chest as the murky
waters swirl around us. Before long we are:
"Neck deep in the Big Muddy
A>d the big fool says to push on... "