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Your Views: Mathis expertise, wisdom welcomed by young writer
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I was visiting in Dahlonega last week, and the headline in The Times announcing the death of James Mathis Sr. surprised and saddened me. How ironic, I thought, that the last time I had contact with Mr. Mathis was when I was conducting research for a magazine article I was writing about the old Cherokee nation in North Georgia, specifically the native Americans who inhabited the Blood Mountain/Wolf Creek region.

Several scholars down in Atlanta had recommended the Gainesville businessman as a self-taught, expert source on anything and everything having to do with old Cherokee and Creek culture, their life and lore. They were right. My meeting with him and the interview he granted was a long time ago, in the fall of 1996, when we both were much younger, and his mind and memory were like a history text that opened just for me.

I say interview, but it was more like a lecture, with Mr. Mathis holding forth almost reverently for two hours on detail after detail about how the Cherokee and Creek people lived and died, worked and played, what they believed, feared, loved, and who and what they worshipped.

I recall feverishly scribbling notes as he related the details and nuances of centuries of history as if he had lived them himself. My editor had assigned me 1,000 words on my story about Blood Mountain, and after my interview with Mr. Mathis, I wrote 4,000. Any success I had with that magazine article was due to his gracious gifts of information one could find nowhere else.

As your story on his death so aptly described, James Mathis Sr. was a treasure of a man. With his passing, so much is taken from us, not the least of which is that link, that bridge to the region's Native American past that he helped people like me to cross to experience the value, meaning and legacy of a culture long gone. There are few like him, and I suspect sadly, there will be fewer still in the future.

Andy Bowen
Tampa, Fla. (part-time resident of Suches)

Stop picking on the poor
I have noticed a growing trend in America that truly disgusts me. There seems to be a huge amount of financial penalties for people who are struggling. One such penalty would be for the person who allows his car insurance to lapse. If your car insurance lapses you have to pay a fee to have it fixed.

Then you get a letter from the DMV stating that your license has been suspended. Next, you get to pay a big fat fine to have it reinstated. Would it have just been cheaper to pay your insurance on time? Sure. Never mind the fact that you had to choose between food for your family for the week or paying your insurance. Forget your family; pay your insurance.

Right. That works.

Another penalty would be for the person who didn't pay the power bill on time. Your power gets turned off and you have to pay a new deposit on your lights. Add in a $30 reconnection fee. Oh, and you have to pay the bill of course. You're looking at $400, depending on your past due bill. The power company gets away with this, of course. Why?

Because they know you need them and they have a monopoly where you live. What are you going to do, switch companies?

There are plenty more examples. Start paying close attention. The poor are the ones who can't pay their bills. Why add more debt when it's obvious the bills are already stacking up? Quit penalizing people for being poor and find a new hobby, America.

Natasha Cantrell
Gainesville

Deputies a big help at parade
I would like to thank the Hall County Sheriff's Office for their help last Saturday. To kick off Vacation Bible School for Canaan Baptist Church, we planned a parade in the Sardis Community to make the parents and kids aware of our Bible School. Needless to say, during these economic times a lot of things have changed in the past several months.

But when I contacted the Sheriff's Office and my request was given to Deputy Kelly Edwards. He was helpful with our route and time. Also, I would like to thank Deputy Maria Friedrich for a great job in leading our parade.

This was not only a safe and enjoyable time for the kids at Canaan Baptist Church, but the adults as well. Thanks again for not only protecting our county, but taking time to help in the community.

Tim Voyles
Gainesville

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