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Community Forum: City government still is faithful to tradition
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Gainesvillians owe a debt of gratitude to our city leaders. For years, they have been at the forefront of progress, making decisions to shape our community for decades to come.

An example of this leadership occurred in the late 1970s when city council sold a prime piece of downtown property, at that time containing historic Main Street School. While the community organized support for its preservation, a wrecking ball moved in under cover of darkness and began the demolition. The beautiful columns that had greeted generations of Gainesville students were knocked from under the front portico.

And, as if to thumb its nose at those who sought another solution, the city allowed the partially destroyed building to sit there for weeks. At that point it was too late and our leaders knew it.

This property then became the new Hall County Detention Center, a "centerpiece" of the downtown landscape. As a facility intended to house a couple of hundred prisoners evolved into a razor wire-encircled fortress with more than 1,000 criminals from all over Georgia, anyone should have seen that this location was not suited for this use. We could only hope that the day would come when the city would be in a position to reacquire what had been allowed to slip away.

In December 2007, the day finally arrived to begin the process of cleansing this sore from our landscape. With a price of $4 million, the city would only have to agree to allow the county to lease the facility to Corrections Corporation of America for seven years. Not the best solution, but beggars can't be choosers.

All the city had to do was sign the hand-delivered contract and we would have hope for positive development and revitalization in an area that so needs it. But what did they do? Nothing. And now they are trying to make the citizens of Gainesville believe that, while compensating our city attorney quite nicely for his counsel, we sought and took the advice of the Hall County attorney who told the City Council not to sign the purchase contract.

Of course the county attorney advised the city not to accept the deal. By not selling the Main Street property back to the city, the county will be able to pocket $40 million, as it almost immediately leased the property to CCA for 20 years at $2 million per year. I only hope they do not attempt to lay the blame for this disaster on recently departed city manager Bryan Shuler. The easiest thing to do is to blame whoever is not in the room when the finger pointing starts.

In light of this continuing fine leadership, I will probably be able to take my grandchildren down Main Street one day and see where the upscale restaurant might have been, where the art gallery and the coffee shop would have been located if city leaders in 2007 had not been asleep or off at a "retreat." I may go down the street on just such a trip, but you can bet my car doors will be locked tightly as we drive past our own little Alcatraz.

And when my grandchildren ask what that razor wire-enclosed place is, I will be able to use a quote from an old movie: "Stupid is as stupid does," little Jimmy.

Jeff Pierce

Hunting with assault weapons isn't a sport
I am not a golf nut or a fishing nut, but I am a gun nut. I have been that way for about 50 of my 60 years. I got my first Marlin .22-caliber bolt action rifle for $15 when I was 11. I was a Boy Scout then and I earned a marksmanship merit badge with that second-hand rifle.

A single shot Stevens 20-gauge shot gun was next when I was 12. Every year after Thanksgiving dinner, we went rabbit hunting at my grandfather's patch of broom grass and hardwood trees. The day after Thanksgiving, we usually had rabbit and squirrels for dinner.

Boy's Life magazine advertised Winchester pump .22's and Marlin lever-action rifles, as did ads in the Boy Scout Handbook. I don't recall any ads for pistols (they weren't much good for hunting, anyway). Outdoor Life, Sports Afield and Shooting Times were full of articles about guns and hunting and plinking (target shooting). Now all magazines on the shelves are about tactical weapons, assault rifles and defense weapons.

I don't hunt anymore. I wish I could, but I just can't bring myself to even shoot squirrels on my bird feeder. I just feed them and enjoy watching their antics and schemes for thievery. The last time I hunted squirrels, I hunted them with a .45-caliber flintlock rifle, with which it was never a problem to get a day's limit of six squirrels with no more than eight or 10 shots.

This is all I'm asking of you other gun nuts out there. Please quit trying to pull the wool over everybody's eyes by saying you need an AR15 semi-automatic, 30-round magazine assault rifle because you like to hunt with it. If you can't kill a deer with a single shot rifle, bolt action or an old vintage Marlin or Winchester, then maybe you should consider being a vegetarian.

An assault rifle is not a hunting rifle. It's a weapon of "moose destruction." It is your constitutional right to own such a gun, and I admit they are fun for target shooting, but it is as far as hunting goes, a weapon of moose destruction.

I suppose if they advertised them in the Boy Scout Handbook, it could lead to getting a merit badge in G.I. Joemanship. But wouldn't it be a tragedy to see another seven years of the cruel reality of war because the president heard rumors that Boy Scouts had weapons of moose destruction?

Truthfully, I would like to hunt deer again if they would allow me to hunt them with a circus cannon. I could load it with a butcher, shoot him at the deer and he would bring me back venison packaged in white paper and freezer ready. Are circus cannons covered by the Second Amendment?

Write your congressman about your right to own guns, but don't try to convince him that assault weapons are for hunting. Your congressman is better at lying than you are at lying and hunting. Give him a break.

Joseph Johnson

Leaders should work for us, not noncitizens
Our representatives who we voted for and elected for the House and Senate sure are doing a great job for the people of the United States.

The way I understand it, our representatives are trying to pass a bill to allow illegal aliens to get help with tuitions to attend our colleges. This is rewarding people for breaking our laws. Can't our representatives see that you don't reward people for breaking our law just to get their votes?

Where are we going to get the money to pay for this? Why not help pay the tuitions for American citizens who cannot afford to pay for it? What are we trying to do to educate the rest of the world and let our own citizens go lacking? This doesn't seem right to me.

Remember we elected these people to represent us, not those who sneak into this country breaking our laws and taking jobs away from Americans who need them in these hard times we are having.

If you don't think this is right, call your representatives and let them know how you feel. Remember they are suppose to work for us.

I hope the changes our president talked about are not changes like this.

Ray Lingerfelt