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Community Forum: Politicians do nothing as Lake Lanier shrinks
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As I write this, Lake Lanier's water level is at 1,054.99 feet, a record for this time of year and one we saw last November when it sunk to 1,050.

Lanier's full pool level is 1,071 feet; we're down 16.01 feet now, a new record for this time of the year. September and October are normally our driest months. So as we hope for a tropical depression to come our way, it's doubtful we'll get any help from Mother Nature.

Lanier's water level is sinking fast, but Lake West Point is at full pool as are the other reservoirs in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint river basin, and so is Lake Allatoona in the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa river basin.

So why aren't they pulling from the lower lakes and giving Lanier some time to recoup when it rains? It is obvious it's not the drought affecting us as much as mismanagement. We need some help or by November, we'll be a ditch as the banks dry up even more and coves become sand pits. The silt problem will create one big mess when heavy rains return to North Georgia. This lake needs proper management to prevent that abuse in the future and restore a sane water use program to Lanier.

Yes, I know the courts are controlling what flows out more than the Corps of Engineers now, but let Florida use more of its water to pull in for its oysters. It's not the handful of stupid endangered species that is Florida's concern, but it serves their purpose to control the flow for them, not us.

If we have to continue our water restrictions, I sure would like to see Florida and Alabama come on board and do the same. I constantly e-mail our federal and state politicians to stop this water hemorrhaging at Lanier. And as they go to the different bureaucracy leaders to state their case for Georgia, we're still suffering the consequences of this water mismanagement.

As of 2006, I felt our congressional and state leaders had a true understanding of what we're going through. But as the years go by, we're getting depressed over this water level issue and how it's affecting the economy around the lake. Lost revenue and tax dollars have to be affecting our state in a huge way, too.

We need desperate actions now. Make statements, get out on TV or even confiscate the dam and shut it down to a trickle to cover Atlanta needs. But are we paying the price up here for Atlanta's failure to correct its water-sewage mess? I hope that's not the case.

Can Chambliss, Isakson, Deal and all of Georgia's politicians get a handle on this soon? More than ever, we need everybody's help as the level sinks. Let's have a water debate and let everyone understand the issues. Drill here-drill now and water here-water now actions will enrich our economy, and food cost will come down as we all face these big issues together. But our do-nothing Congress is more interested in pointing fingers than doing, spending millions on pointless hearings and earmarks. This is insane.

We the people are fed up with the abuse and snail pace of Washington. The little people are out here trying to deal with the big issues of our times. No more sound-bites for votes. Action now, not later.

Jane Browder
Gainesville

Care Center offers testing, care for HIV
In response to "HIV cases on the rise, funding low in the South," I wanted to highlight the role of a local community health center in this battle.

The South has the highest rate of new HIV cases. It appears that the region overall has many barriers to keep people from getting testing and, therefore, treatment. Many in the South are worried about financial barriers to testing as well as confidentiality, social stigma associated with HIV and misinformation about the disease.

The Gainesville Care Center has become a place in our community to help alleviate some of these concerns over testing. The Care Center offers a comfortable environment in which a client can receive education, confidential testing and an opportunity to discuss any concerns with a nurse. We offer all these services free of charge to the client.

Because of the generosity of both individuals and businesses in our area, we can provide quality testing for those concerned about HIV, herpes, chlamydia and gonorrhea. Many are surprised to find that they can have HIV and herpes results before they leave their appointment.

Although we can't solve the South's HIV challenge alone, the Gainesville Care Center will continue to minister to those with concerns one at a time while sharing the compassion for which Gainesville is known.

Mitzi Williams, RN
nurse manager, Gainesville Care Center

Neighbors, curb your dog on your own curb
Where have all the flowers gone?
Remember those lyrics from a song from yesteryear? Well, I know where all my flowers went. I sit on my front porch relaxing, meditating and admiring what's left of my flowers.

Then "whoop dare it is," hiking and squatting. Yes, it's my lovely neighbors taking their dogs to potty. They claim they're "walking their dogs." I just don't understand how long those dog leashes are; they must be 50 feet long, and they act so nonchalant as they test that length.

Don't get me wrong, I'm known as the "Critter Whisperer." Not snakes and spiders and stuff, but "critters." I love people bringing their pets to visit me, when I see those little plastic baggies. Several of "my children" are rescued and are very special to me. They are well behaved and tremendously loved. You rehabilitate the animals and "train" the owners!

Don't people have any respect for others anymore? What is wrong with their own yard instead of someone else's?

And don't even talk about my trash can. My husband took the trash out and gagged when he opened the lid. Yep, someone did the unthinkable! Which reminds me of another topic for another day: Stepping into a dirty baby diaper when you get out of your vehicle.

Linda Tench
Gainesville

Lanier Village residents share with community
Thank you for the fine article on Lanier Village Estates. It is, indeed, more than just a home; it is an extended family, one that reaches beyond its boundaries and many recreational activities.

Residents give generously to others with their time, talents and assets. We serve regularly as volunteers in such places as Northeast Georgia Medical Center, Ronnie Green Heart Center, Good News at Noon, Good News Clinics, Challenged Child and Friends, our churches and schools, to name a few.

I thank the inspired and generous Gainesville leaders who had the foresight to seek and negotiate for the implementation of this caring and giving retirement community.

Carolyn Kokenge
Gainesville

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