Thu Nov 20 11:46:45 EST 2003
Junk Car Law Dead
Lives of some commisioners threatened during heated session
Dawson County commissioners were escorted from Monday night=92s meeting by
sheriff=92s deputies following possibly the most livid meeting in county
The escort, led by Dawson sheriff=92s Capt. Greg Rowan and three deputies, =
prompted by concern for the commissioners=92 personal safety. It followed a
serious forewarning by some members of a standing-room-only crowd that
Dawson County isn=92t ready to become a part of the metro Atlanta area.
More importantly, the crowd of more than 200, which also filled the jury
box, passed the message: "don=92t mess with our cars."
Those warnings were extended to commissioners not native to Dawson. One
resident told the board that if it passed any laws concerning junk
vehicles,that members could end up like the late Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. - they weren=92t talking about a holiday.
Dr. King, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and noted civil rights leader in the
1960s, was gunned down by an assassin op April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn.
Another resident told commissioners that if anyone came on his property in
search of junk cars, that "blood will be shed."
Commission Chair Don Roberts received what amounted to a Secret Service
escort to the courthouse=92s parking lot. Roberts, trying to control the
meeting, bantered with residents, asking them to speak one at a time. In an
attempt to regain control, Roberts promised to have those who continued
unprompted outbursts removed from the meeting. Some residents didn=92t like
Roberts=92 control approach and by the end of the night, those leaving the
meeting told Roberts they "sure will be glad when Roberts is gone."
Roberts replied: "So will I." The threats came well after commissioners
already had killed revisions to the county=92s solid waste ordinance that
included provisions to target the disposal of junk cars.
The board continued forward with accepting public comment on the issue and
residents didn=92t mince words on the subject. Bottom line: the rural
residents had fought for their country and they "ain=92t forgot how to figh=
Resident Johnny Singleton told the five-member board that he had fought for
America to maintain the rights and privileges of being an American. "I
fought in Korea," Singleton said. "I fought the communist to preserve our
rights. The EPD (state Environmental Protection Division) or the EPA
(federal Environmental Protection Agency) has no right to come to Dawson
County and tell us what to do." "The way this country is being run, we
might as well call (Cuban leader Fidel) Castro to come over and run it,"
Singleton said. "They=92re not coming on my property to take my stuff. Blood
will be on y=92all=92s hands if you pass this and they come get my stuff."
In a more calm tone, Annie Dean Samples, a retired school teacher and local
artist, told the board that cars, the main ingredient for moonshine runners
and race car drivers, were more than a part of the county=92s heritage. "A
junk car law does not meet the needs of Dawson County," she said. "I=92m pr=
of you for deciding that before we stood up to speak. We must not allow
governments in our yards and in our garages - we=92ve had enough of Big
Brother. Are there any golfers in group tonight? How would you like to be
told how many golf clubs you can have? I=92m not proud that this
environmental code enforcement officer that you will vote on tonight is paid
for with state dollars. I'm a retired school teacher - state dollars come
with strings," she said If ou pass a law on junk cars in the future, this
code enforcement officer will be about as popular as the revenuers were
during the moonshine days
Resident Betty Turner told the commissioners that she was tired of people
who keep trying to reinvent Dawson County. "Most of the people who complain
about junk yards, they (junk yards) were here long before all the city folks
moved here," Turner said. "It was all right when they moved here; what=92s
wrong with it now?" "When you start messing with people=92s lives, you are
wrong," Turner said. "We have got to stop big government and we must stop
it at home. There are a lot of folks that need to keep their noses out of
their neighbors=92 yards."
District 4 Commissioner Lori Clark-McCormick, a Dawson native, told
residents that she appreciated their concerns and input and that revisions
to the solid waste ordinance were dead. "I know where you are coming from;
I knew this wouldn=92t work for us," McCormick said. "I=92m glad to hear fr=
you and y=92all are the county. "I understand you - please work with us and
let=92s build this county like we want it. Work with us, not against us," s=
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