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Your Views: Mussels are lousy to eat and taking our water
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OK, so I've never had a great relationship with mussels. My first experience with them, at Charley's Crab in Washington, D.C., led to another first experience: food poisoning.

They didn't taste good going down and they sure didn't taste any better coming up. Now mussels are messing with me again, demanding precious water from my Lake Lanier.

Supposedly these unattractive little creatures are "endangered" and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers feels a sense of obligation to save them, sending them millions of gallons of H2O daily while we lake lovers are helplessly watching our playground disappear.

We'd have to get something like two inches of rain per day to keep up with what is being given away, and that just isn't happening. Lake Lanier is not only suffering the effects of a drought of historic proportions, but also, I fear, the result of poor management of its resources by the corps. Let's not forget that it accidentally let 22 billion gallons escape last year.

Now Lake Lanier marinas are struggling tremendously, trying to keep their tenants happy by keeping their boats on water. Sailboats and houseboats are having to play "musical slips" to stay safe (my own has been moved twice in the past two weeks) and it's becoming more and more dangerous to navigate the lake due to water hazards. To top it off, businesses and property values have to be taking a huge hit.

The two species of mussels that are sucking up our water to avoid extinction are the Purple Bankclimber and the Fat Threeridge. I actually do feel a bit sorry for mussels; in doing research I found that we've given them some pretty insulting-sounding names such as Round Pigtoe, Monkey Face, Sheepnose, Wartyback, Pimpleback and Fat Mucket.

But the sympathy stops there. While I wouldn't wish extinction for any living creature, as I watch Lake Lanier seemingly evaporate I am left wondering: In a battle between man and mussel, isn't it somewhat ludicrous to let the mussel be victorious?

I've had quite enough of my mussel musings. I think I'll just pray for rain!

Diane Kyle
Flowery Branch

Sponsors, volunteers made Open a success

It has often been said that the biggest accomplishments come from the efforts of a small, dedicated group of individuals. The Gainesville-Hall County community has once again proven this to be true. The Medical Center Foundation's 2007 Medical Center Open Golf Tournament is a perfect example.

A group of 34 individuals from all across our community came together in May for the first planning meeting for The Medical Center Open, held Oct. 4 at Chicopee Woods Golf Course. Over the past six months, their hard work and dedication pulled together more than 200 golfers, another 200 sponsors and more than 100 volunteers for the most successful event in the tournament's 16-year history.

A check for $207,855 was presented to the Hall-Dawson Court Appointed Special Advocates Program, this year's tournament beneficiary, and CASA has big plans for those funds. For those unfamiliar with the program, CASA volunteers advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children involved in court proceedings. The tournament's proceeds will allow CASA to build a new child-friendly office on Washington Street in Gainesville, where trained volunteers will seek safe and permanent homes for these children.

For the 11th year in a row, 100 percent of all sponsorships and player fees go directly to the tournament beneficiary thanks to donations from our generous sponsors.

Many local businesses also donated gifts-in-kind, which were a tremendous help, from volunteer breakfasts to boxed lunches to flowers for the reception. Our golfers enjoyed a variety of donated special door prizes and contest prizes, especially the hole-in-one contest.

Since 1997, more than $1.5 million has been raised for community health improvement projects by The Medical Center Open thanks to the ongoing support of so many individuals and businesses. We are truly grateful to live and work in a community willing to give so generously of themselves for those less fortunate. On behalf of The Medical Center Foundation and ourselves, thank you for your continued support.

P. Fred Kelly and Stephen Moore
Medical Center Open co-chairs, Gainesville