What are those old sayings? “What goes around comes around ?” or “There’s nothing new under the sun.”
Looking back at the year 1975, they ring an assortment of bells.
In January that year, Jimmy Carter was leaving the governor’s office to George Busbee and beginning his unlikely long-shot (at the time) campaign for president. Busbee was proposing a $2 billion state budget.
Lt. Gov. Zell Miller wanted to create an ethics commission and open all legislative meetings, committee and otherwise.
Four of President Richard Nixon’s aides had been found guilty of covering up the Watergate burglary, and Gerald Ford was four months into his presidency after Nixon resigned.
The football bowl season was over, and fans still were arguing about who was No. 1, especially after Notre Dame upset Alabama in the Orange Bowl in Irish Coach Ara Parseghian’s final game. Southern Cal, Michigan and Oklahoma also claimed to be the best in the nation after winning their bowls.
Inflation and a recession plagued the country with an unemployment rate of 7.1 percent. Hall County’s jobless rate was 8.3 percent. Yet, building permits in Hall County set a record. Real estate was doing so well in the mountains that longtime residents howled about land speculators causing prices to escalate.
The Arab oil embargo had ended the previous year, and there were calls for energy conservation, including fewer gas-guzzling vehicles and more transit systems to get people out of their cars.
CBS Television’s Walter Cronkite, Roger Mudd and Bernard Goldberg used Gainesville as part of their documentary series about the economy and unemployment. Local businesses and the chamber of commerce hung banners welcoming the broadcasters to the city.
Vehicle tag lines were beginning to lengthen at tag offices around the state. That was when April 1 was the deadline for getting tags before the state enacted the present system of staggering the deadlines to coincide with the vehicle owner’s birthday. That was a good idea, long overdue, but in recent days, tag lines are hours long again because more identification is required before a vehicle owner can get a tag.
One of The Times’s suggestions for local government at the beginning of the year was to establish a public transportation system. Gainesville’s city commission voted down such a project, suggesting that a private company might do the job if needed.
Jim Hartley, local legendary radio announcer, was beginning a term as Gainesville mayor, succeeding Bob Hamrick.
Gainesville’s new public safety facility on Church Street (now Jesse Jewell Parkway) was about half completed.
That’s the building the city demolished in recent months to make way for the pedestrian bridge across Jesse Jewell Parkway and perhaps for a hotel someday. New public safety facilities now are on Queen City Parkway and Pine Street.
Gainesville water rates increased, but the water and sewer department’s finances remained in the red. Still, people were clamoring for an expansion of water and sewer lines in unincorporated areas to encourage more development of subdivisions, business and industry.
McEver Road, promoted as an alternate route to Atlanta, had been completed only to Light’s Ferry Road at Flowery Branch. The stretch to Gwinnett County was on the schedule for 1975.
The extension of Church Street (now Jesse Jewell Parkway) to West Broad Street (also now Jesse Jewell Parkway) was on the list of roadwork projects, along with completion of Queen City Parkway to connect to Interstate 985. Another project was the widening and rebuilding of Sycamore Street (now E.E. Butler Parkway).
As 1975 began, here’s what The Times was promoting as priorities for Gainesville and Hall County:
• Completion of the highway system around Hall County and the rest of Northeast Georgia.
• Considering consolidation of Hall County and Gainesville school systems.
• Better cooperation between Hall County and its municipalities.
• Merger of city and county tax offices and parks and recreation.
• Begin a revival of downtown Gainesville.
• Complete Lake Lanier Islands.
• Improve land use controls.
• Safeguard the purity and water level of Lake Lanier.
• Mark a few off the list, but some seem to just keep recycling while the list itself gets longer.
• Maybe in another three decades-plus.
Johnny Vardeman is retired editor of The Times. His column appears Sundays and at gainesvilletimes.com/johnny.