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Your Views: Gainesvilles cherry planting
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The Our Views editorial in the Sept. 6 issue of The Times states, "It’s also worth pointing out who is to blame for the existence of these islands. Over the years, Gainesville, like many towns, chose to cherry-pick many high value properties outside of its city limits, often at the request of developers. In doing so, it bypassed less desirable plots along the way in order to take the ripe fruit, often because that land was underdeveloped or weak on revenue potential. Now that those areas are more attractive, it wants to go back and add them."

It is very true, the elected officials of Gainesville in the early 1970’s were visionary enough to plant cherry trees. These cherry trees were planted in the Airport Industrial Park, Industrial Park North, Industrial Park South, Atlas Industrial Park, Phase I and Phase II, Industrial Park West and provided utility services to Centennial Industrial Park (Hall County Industrial Park) and to the McEver Property (a private industrial park) at the corner of McEver Road and Browns Bridge Road.

Recently, we broke ground on the Gainesville Business Park, a joint effort with Hall County. Cherry trees were also planted in the LandMark and Kingswood Residential Subdivisions to provide affordable housing for workers in the above listed Industrial Parks.

One of the prime reason in developing these industrial parks has been to provide diverse job opportunities for our young people. Each of the parks was designed to have a minimum adverse environmental effect on our residential neighborhoods.

In addition, the city provides utility services to several industries, schools and commercial sites in the unincorporated areas.

Over the subsequent years, many individuals have enjoyed cherries from these trees by seeing increased property values, and the trees have contributed to our economic and quality of life standards. One of the last demographic reports listed 81,000 individuals as being employed in the metro Gainesville area.

The vision of the current City Council is to continue planting cherry trees for the continued benefit and enjoyment of our citizens. Participants in our recreational and educational programs will see enhanced services. Citizens will continue to enjoy the latest health services and the performing arts. We can also expect to see expanded commercial opportunities as the current economic conditions improve.

The current law governing "island annexations" is a compromise position agreed to by the Association of County Commission of Georgia and the Georgia Municipal Association and introduced and passed by our state legislature.

Citizens annexed under the provisions of this law can expect to receive the same services that is currently provided. Gainesville has been cited by Georgia Trends Magazine and by our peers in the Georgia Municipal Association as being one of the first "Cities of Excellence" and most recently named a "Trendsetter" in the State.

Yes, the cherry trees have produced good fruit!

Bob Hamrick
Gainesville city councilman

Citizens can question president’s policies without being racist
Perhaps it takes an anti-semite to know what a racist is, but in the case of former President Jimmy Carter, his words mean less and less each year, so its easy to dismiss his conclusion about those who criticize President Barack Obama.

I think it is reasonable to assume that almost all people in this country agree that President Obama should be accorded the respect of his office and basic civility that all presidents should receive. However, this is a vibrant democracy and it is equally reasonable for people to question the president’s policies without the label of "racist" (unless one has a reasonable basis to make that serious allegation).

Lets hope the discussion in the U.S. about health care, taxes and defense issues is vibrant and serious. Lets also hope that the president is not demonized and that his critics receive equal respect from the administration and liberal media outlets.

Et Gentin