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PAGE 4-A, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 23, 1994
It's The Year Of Two
Parties In Brunswick
It may be the year of the GOP in Washington and Raleigh,
but the recent elections proved beyond any doubt that local issues
rarely lend themselves to coattails and party lines.
In Brunswick County, the Democrat running for sheriff took
every precinct. Three Republicans and two Democrats will serve
as county commissioners. Four Democrats and one Republican
will make up the new school board. That's a strong indication
that not much straight-ticket voting occurred in the local races,
and that's a sign of good political health ? that local voters are
thinking about issues instead of affiliations.
When elective boards are split along party lines, decision
making can be tough. But the situation makes for livelier, more
liGnest and more productive debate of the challenges that loom.
Brunswick County's problems, like those of most growing
rural/resort communities, transcend labels and pat answers. In
rural communities such as ours, few people could be pigeonholed
as classic liberals, and most folks don't have the wealth to fit the
stereotype of fat-cat Republicans. In local races, candidates' par
ty affiliation often is (and usually should be) more than incidental
to the man or woman marking the ballot.
Booze It, Lose It: The Cost
Of Partying On The Road
During the past three years, Brunswick County had 30 alco
hol-related traffic fatalities ? nine in 1991, 14 in 1992 and seven
That's twice as many as in Alamance, Chatham and Scotland
counties during the same period. Three times as many as Hoke.
Five times as many as Dare and Yadkin. Six times as many as
Bertie, Hertford and Jackson.
If that's not enough to convince you to take seriously and
support the statewide "Booze It and Lose It" roadside checks
campaign, look at it from a selfish point of view.
According to statistics from the Governor's Highway
Initiative organization, the average tab for a first-time DW1 ? dri
ving while impaired?offender is $6,200. That's $2,000 in fines,
an average yearly insurance increase of $1,800, $800 in attorney
fees, $800 for a jury trial or appeals and another $800 in inciden
tals ranging from the cost of substance abuse assessment/treat
ment to the price of getting your license reinstated. If you live in
Brunswick County, add to that the embarrassment of having your
name printed in the court docket of two weekly newspapers for
all your friends and kinfolk to see.
Either way you look at it, the price is too high.
Be Gratitude In Action
BY MARJORIE SEARS
The art of Thanksgiving is ThanksLiving. It is gratitude in action.
"Thank you, Lord, for all our many blessings." This is the usual prayer
offered by Christians at Thanksgiving time.
The prayer, of course, is a thank-you in generalities for the food we eat,
our homes and comforts of life and our loved ones. But don't we need to
delve deeper into the meaning of all our blessings?
How come we are so privileged here in America to enjoy our homes,
heated and lighted by natural elements, our T-bone steaks and tenderloins,
purchased and ready to drop in the frying pan, our lovely soft no-iron fabric
clothing and warm winter coats and boots.
What a pleasure to cut the grass with a power mower as opposed to a
push one. How satisfying it is to go into the parlor after a hearty meal and
stretch out on a soft comfy couch or lounge chair and read an up-to-date
newspaper while intermittently watching a television screen or listening to
Perhaps, taken with illness, we can reach for one of two or three phones
and call a physician who can reassure and advise what to do without having
to leave our comfortable homes. The physician calls the druggist who care
fully prepares the medicine and frequently delivers it right to your home.
In the case of a more serious ailment we can climb into a heated, com
fortable car or call an ambulance and be driven to a hospital within a short
distance from the home, where deft hands and knowledgeable minds minis
ter to the needs of the body with the help of myriad intricate man-made ma
chines and laboratory technicians who pinpoint the ailment and correct it.
Without this help, death might be imminent.
Everything in America isn't as it should be, but it will not become any
better through the work of chronic complainers. Only those who are thank
ful for what America is and stands for will see her faults and set to work
correcting them and making a good country better by practicing responsible
citizenship. Their hearts should be thankful enough to God to get to work
and improve the imperfect.
This Thanksgiving take the time to break through the prayer of general
ities and delve into the specifics of "our many blessings." It has been writ
ten that no man is an island unto himself. Each individual is dependent up
on the efforts and talents of hundreds of others for his creature comforts.
Since all humanity suffers the same ailment ? "imperfectionitis" ? let's be
gin to make a good world better by expending energy to help correct what
ever and wherever we can by being thankful for those upon whom we must
depend for "all the blessings" we enjoy.
Follow your prayers with action in all your contacts ? a smile, a thank
you, a note of appreciation, a word of encouragement, physical assistance,
or just a pat on the back.
At Thanksgiving time a little girl was asked to tell what she was most
grateful for, and she thought hard and long. Then she said, "I am thankful
that I am thankful."
Thank God for creative ideas that enrich life by adding your own cre
ative contributions to human progress. Thank God by giving hands, arms,
legs and voice to your own thankful spirit.
Marjorie Sears lives in New Palestine, Indiana. She has family in
New Driver Up At The Tractor Pull
Over the years I've watched some
good, caring people run for and get
elected to the Brunswick County
Board of Education. Without fail
they begin work with bold ideas, en
thusiasm, impatience to bring con
structive changes into the schools.
It has hurt to see their disappoint
ment and disillusionment as each in
dividual and each team tries, with
sometimes few visible results, to
move a sluggish bureaucracy in new
and hopefully better directions, or
even to sort out what works and
It came to mind that what they're
trying to do is like trying to win a
tractor pull. There's a straight track
laid out, and every driver who enters
wants to get from Point A to Point B
as fast and efficiently as possible.
Each has his or her own idea of what
combination of factors will make it
At one end of the track waits the
tractor and its eager driver, hell-bent
on winning or at least showing. The
tractor's humming like a tiger, chaf
ing at the bit, and the driver's got his
strategy mapped out. In one corner
there's a cheering/booing section, in
another, a crew.
Hitched to the tractor is an enor
mous sled, weighted so that the far
ther it is drawn, the greater the resis
tance it offers. The tractor may stop
right on the track, its wheels rutting
deep. Sometimes the front end
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tractor is going to throw the driver
onto or under the sled. Occasionally
the tractor goes careening off the
track, out of control, before coming
to a rest.
?Once in a while track, tractor and
driver blend to create near-perfec
tion. The driver finesses track condi
tions and his tractor's capabilities
and pushes to the limit, making it to
the far end of the track before the
More often there are complica
tions; the run doesn't go quite as
planned. Sometimes bccausc of per
sonal error or misjudgment, or per
haps the support team misses some
thing or a piece of equipment
Then what counts is how the dri
ver reacts, what he or she does next.
Boards and their leadership are
like that. Sometimes a board stalls
early on. unable to reach consensus
on even a general direction of travel.
This can happen if they focus too
quickly on issues ths! tod to rfivid<
and forget to first build a team that
can work together and laugh together.
Sometimes, after a quick start,
they let up on the accelerator too
soon and bog down, unable to ad
vance against a wall of resistance,
the powers of inertia.
Emergencies come along that dis
tract from the finish line goal: the
school sv?tem equivalents of wet
spots on the track, fiat tires and
What always matters most isn't
what has happened, but how the
board responds. How it moves on.
How or whether it keeps its focus.
Looking back through my notes
from covering the school board, I
came across several quotes I'd saved
that seem to fit this mental meander
ing. Both relate to how the tractor
pulls the sled from one end of the
track to the other.
When Dr. James Forstner of
Southport left the school board a
few years back, he offered advicc to
the incoming board that still applies:
"To be patient with each other; to
keep children as the first priority;
and to consider thoughtful expendi
tures as an investment in the future
More recently, community leader
and former high school vicc princi
pal Maliston "Moc" Stanley of
Shallotte co-chaired a diverse-mind
cd committee of school employees
and community leaders charged with
finding a better way to rccmit mi
nority personnel. While the group
generally reached consensus on a
number of issues and goals, it
wasn't without pain. One dissatis
fied member, Nathaniel Parker of
Southport, pulled out.
Most members, like Stanley, were
excited and pleased with the results.
The committee had met over a peri
od of several months, trying to deal
honestly with a concern that doesn't
invite easy answers.
Done. Stanley felt members had
been honest with cach other and had
developed a workable plan. Not on
ly would it focus on doing a better
job of recruiting minorities, but on
improving the overall quality of
teacher recruitment and teacher/ad
ministrator development. Students
would get better tcachcrs and ad
ministrators of all colors.
While the plan still depends on
funding and implementation to suc
ceed. Stanley camc away convinced
that focus committees like this one
are a means of choice for helping
create change. The night the com
mittee presented its final report, he
told listeners, **l believe the only
way we can turn the tide is doing
more things like this committee."
All eyes will be on the new
school board over the coming
months. Let's welcome them to the
pull and hope they keep the tractor
headed straight and true along the
track Lxt's also hope they heed the
advice of some smart people who
have been there and not make the
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Move Schools' Central Office To Complex
To the editor:
Groundbreaking for the Bruns
wick County Government Complex
was 18 years ago on Nov. 14, 1976;
dedication was June 25, 1978. It is
such a busy and ever-expanding
place, with surely all possible agen
cies housed there.
But no! The notable exception
and conspicuous in its absence is the
Brunswick County Board of (Educa
tion and Schools Administrative
Central Office. This agency contin
ues to be in a makeshift, add-on con
glomerate, which looks like it would
be a fire trap, located on Highway
87 near Southport. It is embarrass
ing, as we try to project a progres
sive and prosperous image of the
county, to see it.
With elections past and new
members of the board of education
and county commissioners, new op
portunities for cooperation are at
hand. Now is the time to move the
schools' central office to join other
agencies at the complex.
Ruth B. Somers
1 xing Beach
No Inmates At Schools
To the editor:
Today 1 visited Supply Elemen
tary School, where my oldest daugh
ter attends. Upon my departure I
was shocked to find inmates in front
of the school cleaning the ditch
It was approximately 10 a.m.
Armed guards were standing in
watch of the prisoners. They were
not 10 feet away from any automo
bile that departed the school that
particular morning. Another mother
voiced her concerns to me in pars
I would like to voice publicly that
1 and, I am sure, many other parents
would not approve of this. Children
are being abducted every day as 1
write this, never to be seen or heard
from again. Why would we put in
mates directly in front of our schools
in the event one tried to escape and
weapons were used?
I do not want my child exposed to
that. 1 do not even like it when they
are near my home working on the
roads, let alone near our schools!
1 don't know where to begin to
have this changed, but I thought
making other parents aware of this
fact was the First step. Let's keep our
inmates just that, and away from or
near our public school buildings.
The state contracts out people to
mow the sides of the public high
ways, and many companies volun
teer to adopt highways to clean.
Through these efforts I think we can
keep armed guards and inmates
away. If you too are concerned for
our children's safety, please let me
hear from you.
Waiting For Disaster
To the editor:
I hope the members of the Sunset
Beach Taxpayers Association who
are in favor of keeping the pontoon
bridge read the opinion page of the
Nov. 17 Brunswick Beacon: "Listen
I hope they read the last para
graph about "manpower, equipment
and water supply." What good are
any of these things if the apparatus
can't get there due to the bridge be
ing open because of a malfunction
or even if a large barge or just a
group of boats is going through.
If the apparatus was delayed be
cause of the bridge being open, and
if there were lives lost, and if the
Associated Press picked it up and it
made all the papers, those people
would really have pie in their faces.
I was a paid firefighter in
Patcrson, N.J., (population 140,900)
for 25 years. One of the important
things about firefighting is response.
You can lose dwellings and it can
get out of control very quickly. If
that bridge delays them for any
length of time with the heat radia
tion and a slight wind and burning
embers flying through the air, no
telling what can happen.
I think you had better smarten up
and close the bam door before the
horse leaves. Please do not wait for
a disaster and then be sorry.
There was a good example with a
picture in the Oct. 27 Beacon of two
homes consumed by fire at Holden
Beach. Lucky the wind was not
blowing much to set off the whole
To the editor:
What the price of leadership is
when you don't vote. A civic lesson
was received by the property owners
of 1,262 parcels in the special as
scvsmcnl district of Shallottc Point
Property owners in this special as
sessment district will have to pay
$736.03 per parcel whether tapped
into the water lines or not. This is so
regardless of whether the land is us
able (perks) or not; the size of the
parcel (lot), no matter how large or
small; the property tax value as rated
by the county.
This is the result of five commis
sioners who took office and swore to
do the best for the citizens of the
The property owners in other ar
eas of Brunswick County, whose
district is slated to receive county
water lines, should take heed and let
the commissioners know how they
feel about what the cost will be to
them. Sooner or later, those property
owners will have to pay this assess
ment also. Perhaps they will be
lucky and get a capital improvement
project funded by bonds. But don't
bet on it.
Some of the property owners in
the Shallotte Point area are not af
fccted by this special assessment of
$736.03 per parcel because their wa
ter lines were funded by capital im
provement bonds. However, the re
maining 1,262 property owners are
assessed this cost of $736.03 in ad
dition to their tax dollars paying on
the capital improvement project
Experience is a good teacher. Can
you imagine what the cost of sewers
is going to be?
James L. Morris
(More Letters, Page 7-A)