Pike County Times
PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. Click here to donate through PayPal. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor@pikecountytimes.com
Welcome to the Pike County Times.com Letters to the Editor Page.

These editorials reflect the opinions of their authors and don't necessarily reflect my personal opinions. Feel free to express your opinion with a letter to the editor to: editor@pikecountytimes.com.

Letter writing guidelines are as follows: I do not have a word limit. However, all editorials must be respectful even when hard points are made about any topic including local, state, or national politics.

If I have a problem with an editorial, I will let you know by email and it can either be resolved or not printed because I will proof your letter for grammatical errors, but I do not edit letters based on content. And last but not least, your editorial must be accompanied by your name and a county or city of residence.

Encouragement for Your Day

"Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
The Death of My Best Friend


Dear Editor,

Johnny Eagleson has been my best friend since we were preschoolers in Oreland, PA where we lived 3 blocks from each other. Collecting newspapers that were recycled was a job we did together. Both of us were active in Boy Scouts, became Eagle Scouts and traveled to the huge BSA Camp Philmont in New Mexico. Our families built homes on the same cove at Lake Wallenpaupack in the Poconos of PA. There were some wonderful times sharing our faiths in our living rooms at the lake where my mother was often an active participant.

In our senior year we both ran for Student Council President and John won with an appeal for our Springfield Township High School to make a difference with the poverty that was only a few miles away. His social justice passion had already begun.

His journey of deciding what to do after HS graduation where he had scores of scholarship offers was thorough and initially took about a year. It lead him to two degrees, expertise in Spanish and on to Maryknoll Seminary in West Chester County NY.

His obituary (https://www.gatheringus.com/memorial/john-eagleson/3686) is unique, remarkable and captures so much of who he was. Who he was had a lot to do with his wife Mary! I had the pleasure to be at their wedding in New Orleans during Mardi gras at her home in the French Quarter.

His marriage necessitated a career change since priests could not be married. It turns out that opportunity was next door at Orbis Books which was affiliated with the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers. In 1973 John sent me a copy of "A Theology of Liberation" that he translated and edited through Orbis. For many this was an introduction to Liberation Theology but for Johnny it was the next step.

About that time I invited him to speak to a management seminar I was conducting for my employer Armstrong World Industries in Lancaster, PA. There he was in sandals, a full beard and very casual attire talking to mangers with suits, no beards and certainly no sandals about social justice. It made for a VERY interesting session that we talked about for years!

From August of 1985 to September 1986 my family and I lived in the Manhattan Borough of New York City where I was doing a management turnaround. Since Johnny lived a short train ride away in Yorktown Heights, NY we got together several times. Interestingly this was at a time when he was in the midst of considering whether to start his own business which he and Mary did in 1987.

As so often happens after we moved back to LaGrange, GA and our boys and my job required a lot of time I communicated less and less with him. A few months ago Mary and I talked and I was going to install Skype so Johnny could at least see me as he was in the hospital. I had Skype installed but didn't make the call until it was too late; so sad!

I have great admiration for Johnny as a husband, father, influencer, a person transformed by his faith and as a VERY special friend!

Rep Jeff Brown (Ret)
LaGrange, GA

The Night Pike County Cancelled Baseball


Dear Editor,

We were under the pavilion, scattered, sitting in the lawn chairs we brought with us. The lights had fully warmed up on the baseball field next to us so that we could see as the meeting progressed from early evening and into the night. All seven rec board members were present. There were two other non-board members present at the publicly announced meeting--the Athletic Director and a person who has a history of sponsoring and coaching at the park. We all knew we were there to make a tough--perhaps historical--decision that would significantly impact the Pike County community. Will there be spring ball in Pike County?

We spent the first few hours of the meeting discussing finances, user agreements, staffing, and improvement projects. None of which was lightly dismissed. Over the last few years, our board had grown to thoroughly discuss topics and debate every conceivable angle. Having been Chair for nearly a full term, it had become a common theme that contrarian views were exposed and considered in a civil manner before a vote would be cast.

After working through nearly all other business on the agenda, the time had come to discuss the possibility of cancelling spring baseball and softball. For weeks, even months, prior to this meeting we had inundated each other with articles, reports, statistics, and authoritative recommendations to work towards the most informed decision we could make. We asked coaches to poll their parents and had those numbers available. We took heed of the Governor’s order, USSSA post-covid-19 rules and recommendations, staff response considerations, sister-county park responses, psychological community impact, and considerations brought to our attention by way of emails and social media from Pike residents. The person who raised the motion to cancel, in my opinion, was the most unlikely to raise that motion. But it was raised and seconded. With cancellation on the table, we went into full discussion, considering everything.

I suppose formal discussion lasted about an hour. There were only a couple times that silence fell under that pavilion and across that empty park. And when it did, a member would request a call to vote. I would disregard that request twice, leading us back into further discussion, but then the moment inevitably came—the call to vote.

All in favor for cancelling the spring season—five hands raised. All opposed—two. I turned to the secretary and with a broken voice announced that the motion to cancel carried. It was done. Spring ball for the first time in my life, really in all of our lives, was cancelled. To me, time stopped. We had a couple other orders of business that had to be addressed given the decision to cancel—refunds and a fireworks contract. I tried to immediately move into the rest of the business. I mean, it was now well after 10:00 pm on a Thursday night and we hadn’t eaten anything. We were ready to adjourn. But I couldn’t move forward. The meeting stopped in that moment. I turned around and faced the illuminated baseball field, the field used to shed light on our meeting. I thought to myself, this is the last time lights will burn on this field this spring. It was a somber, real moment. I caught my breath turned around and we finished our business.

Anger was not present at that meeting. The board showed up to make a hard decision and it was made. It wasn't a unanimous decision but it was thoroughly considered and respectfully conceived.

I got home around 11:30, ate dinner that my loving wife had ready for me, then used her ear to decompress until around 1 am.

That is how it happened, y’all. How I will always remember it. The night Pike County cancelled baseball.

Chris Childress, Pike County
Chairman of the Pike County Parks & Recreation Authority

Cuisine during coronavirus quarantine—sort of


Dear Editor,

I am proud of my coronavirus cooking creativity. Ya make do with what ya have on your kitchen shelves.

Dump canned food in your crockpot and give it a fancy soup name. With the cabinets almost bare, I mixed a can of corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, two cans of chicken, tomato juice, an aging snarly onion, and spices together. Wah-la! Chicken stew—sort of.

Boil some pasta, drain, and add kidney beans, tomato sauce, black and green olives. Wah-la! Pasta stew—sort of.

Who knew the stellar star of eatery during the pandemic would be, none other, then Spam. Yes, the mystery meat in the tin can. My spouse stocked up on Spam Lite at the beginning of shelter-in-place orders.

Sliced, diced, and fried in olive oil, I added Spam to pasta with black olives and a white sauce. Tasty—sort of.

Another dish is chunked Spam with fried rice. It’s a Spam jam for your mouth—sort of.

What about a beast feast with a spud topped with Spam, cheese, onions, and peppers. Feel the foodie flavor—sort of.

For protein during a pandemic, try scrambled eggs with Spam. Just like green eggs and ham—sort of.

According to Spam’s website, the canned meat contains 6 ingredients: already-cooked pork (two different cuts: pork shoulder and ham), salt, water, potato starch (to keep the meat moist), sugar and sodium nitrite (a common preservative). Spam is available in 43 countries worldwide. So, citizens in 43 different countries can boil, bake, braise, and barbecue Spam during the coronavirus calamity. Or just fry it up in a skillet.

I am aware that talking up Spam may not fool adolescents. They will probably whine for fast-food. But the Spam goo does dissolve into the other ingredients.

Beans are a staple around the globe. A pot of pinto beans and cornbread made in a skillet reminds me of days gone by in my grandma’s country kitchen. But leave out the bacon grease. Tell your kids it’s cowboy stew—sort of.

According to an article in The National Geographic, “There are more than 50,000 edible plants in the world, but just 15 of them provide 90 percent of the world’s food energy intake. Rice, corn (maize), and wheat make up two-thirds of this. Other food staples include millet and sorghum; tubers such as potatoes, cassava, yams, and taro; and animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy.”

My favorite stay-at-home snacks include apples smeared with peanut butter; celery smeared with peanut butter, and chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs. But my holiday candy is long gone. And my dogs go wild with happy feet when they get a sniff or whiff of peanut butter.

I have a hankering for bakery cinnamon rolls and carrot cake. When America reopens, I’ll be first in line to buy these sweet treats.

Bon Appetit until the pandemic has passed.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist
Wheelersburg, Ohio

Is it time to reopen the beaches and oceans?


Dear Editor,

Humans are missing beaches. No matter what country or what coastline, people love ocean waves and sunny days. What mysteries abound in salty waters? What induces the desire to stroll along in bare feet? What is that inner yearning about? The magical healing power of majesty. Nature’s playground without admission tickets. Beauty without borders. Connection to the mind, body, spirit.

The pleasure principle is definitely at work whilst we relax and rest under an umbrella with a frosty beverage. Emotions are engulfed in a beach bubble as stress melts away. Leisure for our lungs. The beach is a balm to the body. The cold plunge into the ocean tingles the toes. And for a while, we feel satisfied. The mind is living in the moment. Hustle and bustle are put on hold.

The brain is wired for the beach. Inside the brain small electrical charges are generated as we see, smell, hear, touch, and taste. Senses sizzle via stimulation. Neurological functions such as attention, memory, language, and emotion are cooking in the cortex.

The pandemic has pushed the pause button for beach bliss. Local residents miss the surf and sand. Vacationers miss being refreshed by sun and sea.

Is it safe to reopen some beaches with some restrictions?

USA Today did a recent fact check and reported that sunlight does not kill the new coronavirus. “There is some evidence to suggest the spread of the virus may slow down as the weather gets warmer. That may lead some to incorrectly suggest sunlight as a tip to stay healthy,” the article continued.

Does ocean salt water kill COVID-19?

“Scientists across the globe are scrambling to learn the basic characteristics of the virus, and so far, neither the World Health Organization, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention nor local health agencies have warned that the virus can be spread by ocean spray or coastal breezes. However, they have warned that it can be spread by droplets from sneezes and coughs, and by coming into contact with it on surfaces,” environmental reporter Rosanna Xia reported in an article in the Los Angeles Times (April 11, 2020). Xia interviewed Charles Gerba, a professor of microbiology at the University of Arizona. Gerba studied the coronaviruses in wastewater since the SARS outbreak and reported that 90 percent of COVID-19 is removed from human sewage due to sensitivity to disinfectants before its released into waterways.

Many citizens are demanding the reopening of America. One report says no—another report says yes. One expert says no—another expert says yes. One side cries apocalypsedisaster—one side cries conspiracy theory. The truth hovers somewhere in the middle.

It’s time to open the beaches and oceans, but leave grandma at home.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist
Wheelersburg, Ohio

When the world is grieving


Dear Editor,

Individuals across the globe have died from COVID-19. Whether we knew them personally or not—we may cry, feel sadness, experience loss, and find ourselves mourning. Why? Because we are reminded of our own experiences with loved ones who have died. These past painful emotions can resurface during tragedies. Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness can temporarily return. Experiencing a range of emotions comes with being a human being. And grief is a mixture of swirling and twirling feelings.

Fear often tags along with grief. We fear the people we love most will die. We fear we will die. Our survival alarm for safety blasts throughout the mind and body. Being concerned and cautious is mentally healthy. Being afraid is part of the human hardware and it motivates us to use social distancing, wash our hands, and wear masks. However, when fear jumps on a zooming emotional rollercoaster, it can turn into panic and terror. The logical brain goes offline and the emotional brain spins out of control. And fear of the unknown can spark reactions and overreactions.

Feeling detached while others die is a defense mechanism the mind uses when pain is overwhelming. Escaping into elements (i.e., alcohol, drugs, food) is an unhealthy coping tool. Fear feeds fear. And many individuals in my office have shared they are afraid of death because they are unsure of the afterlife. A universal truth says that pain and suffering are part of the human condition. But while you’re in the trenches, philosophy takes a backseat. Reflection comes after the calamity ends.

The coronavirus pandemic had touched planet earth residents from north to south and from east to west. Grieving for humans you do not know is natural. We are more alike than different. And humans are relational creatures. We want to love and be loved. We want to belong. We want to share our grief with others.

Families want to gather around hospital beds when loved ones are dying. And many were denied access to victims of coronavirus without choice according to several newspaper stories. Did well-meaning decision-makers in power make the wrong decision. Why couldn’t at least one person suit up in full protective gear and stay until death visited? How can any political or medical institution in America prevent a priest or pastor from being at the bedside of the dying? A pandemic does not strip these liberties—people in power do.

“A brutal hallmark of the pandemic is the way it isolates its victims even in their final moments. Patients die alone in hospital rooms, cut off from their spouses, children, siblings and often their pastors or rabbis. The emotional end-of-life moments, if they happen at all, unfold over an electronic tablet or phone, with a stranger serving as an intermediary,” according to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal.

“Hospitals in all 50 states and dozens of countries are barring visitors. Lobbies are bare, visitor parking lots empty, flower deliveries stopped. The number of accessible entry points has been reduced, and security guards and staff are posted at those that remain to turn away patients’ relatives and friends,” according to a recent article in The New York Times.

The above article continued, “At most hospitals, exceptions are being made only for patients receiving end of life care, hospitalized children and pregnant women in labor.” Yes, I agree with these exceptions, however that’s not the story I am hearing.

However, a recent article in USA Today reported, “There is no sweeping regulation that prohibits visitors, but many hospitals implemented a no-visitor policy,” in reference to dying patients from COVID-19. “Limits on visitors have taken an emotional toll on health care workers as well as the families of patients who have died alone. These deaths in isolation prompted health care workers and officials to question when patients can have visitors or whether it should be allowed at all.”

Some hospitals are buying iPads to give to patients for virtual visits. Some nurses are using FaceTime to allow families in parking lots to say final good-byes to a parent or relative right before death.

“One of Israel’s largest hospitals has begun to allow close family members to be at the bedside of dying coronavirus patients and is hoping others around the world will begin to follow suit,” according to a recent article in The Algemeiner.

If one hospital is making the ethical and moral decision to allow close family to be with their dying loved ones, why not hospitals in the United States? Do governors have to pass quick legislation to force medical bureaucracy to use better judgement instead of all-out panic? No doubt, after the pandemic has ended and truth abounds, hospitals will change policy for any future virus crises. No need to blame doctors, nurses, or medical staff—the blame goes to the armchair warriors that make decisions from fancy offices.

Nonetheless, the season for grieving has arrived on planet Earth.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D. is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist
Wheelersburg, Ohio

Voting By Mail Should Replace Voting At the Polls


Dear Editor,

Voting by mail should replace voting at the polls in it's entirety. The two institutions that can definitely be trusted is the County Board of Elections and the United States Postal Service. The money saved by eliminating the need for poll workers could be used to offer free postage on the envelopes used to vote by mail. The person voting would also have more time to consider what they are voting for and would not be confined to the hours of the polling place. It would also prevent unwanted entry to schools and churches from anyone trying to harm someone. In addition the voter would not be harassed by someone trying to place unsolicited campaign literature into their hand. The additional revenue would boost the Postal Service and perhaps keep it afloat until we as a country are able to vote online. Voting by mail would solve the registered voter problem and guarantee safe passage of the ballots to the County Board of Elections.

Joe Bialek
Cleveland Ohio

Political Primaries


Dear Editor,

A political primary is a preliminary election in which the registered voters of a political party nominate candidates for office. The key word here is preliminary. The current system allows small states such as Iowa and New Hampshire {assisted by the media} to award front-runner status to the victorious candidate. From there the candidates travel a path determined by which states wants to "leap frog" the other by moving up their primary dates. Candidates are whisked across the country without any real ability to distinguish regional issues from national issues. Consequently, party platforms are determined by a make-it-up-as-you-go approach. If the primary process were organized on a regional basis, candidates would be able to study the regional issues, campaign to confirm those issues and then receive votes based on the solutions they propose. A regional approach would also prevent a premature selection of a front runner because success in one region certainly would not guarantee success in the next region. This would also further validate the process because each state would still have a say all the way down to the end. Finally, the number of delegates awarded in each state should be determined by the percentage of votes won by each candidate.

Accordingly, the political primaries should occur between January and June of each presidential election year. Each of the six regions would be assigned a particular month. A lottery held in June of the previous year would determine which month each region holds its primaries. An example illustrates the format:

Southern (8):

Southwestern (9):

Atlantic (8):

New England (8):

Northwestern (9):

Middle West (9):

Joe Bialek
Cleveland, Ohio

Thoughts on the Second Amendment Sanctuary County Vote


Dear Editor,

The board of commissioners made a mistake this week when they voted to designate our county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. They did so even as county attorney Rob Morton informed them that such an action had no legal standing and amounted to little more than an affirmation. So, if it’s merely an affirmation, then why do I characterize it as a mistake? Because of the inherent implications of the vote and exactly what it seems to affirm.

First, the vote appeared reactionary and emotionally-driven. Based on the swiftness of the board’s drive to vote on the measure, and despite being asked to take more time and more carefully consider the measure before putting it to a vote, they pushed straight ahead and passed the measure without discussion or debate, and before the resolution was published for public review. Under the circumstances it is unlikely that there was any serious effort to apply reason or critical thinking to the matter. I am not implying that no thought was applied, only that it may have been insufficient for the purpose.

Second, the board willingly joined themselves to a larger movement driven primarily by fear of an orchestrated conspiracy by some shadowy, liberal cabal to take away everyone’s guns as a precursor to establishing a socialist government. This is simply nonsense. I challenged the commissioners to produce any bona fide evidence of such a conspiracy. Needless to say, none was provided. Blindly following is distinctly different from leading.

Third, in essence the board affirmed that if it were dissatisfied with established law, that it would refuse to comply. While a strong supporter of Thoreauvian civil disobedience, even its originator recognized the citizen’s responsibility to first work within the established system to change it before resorting to other, more stringent measures. The board’s decision would appear to tacitly support other, future efforts to flout laws by individual citizens. After all, goose, gander, and all that jazz, right?

Our country is built on a bedrock foundation known as the rule of law. Without it, we could easily slip-slide toward anarchy and vigilantism. And despite county attorney Morton’s seeming attempt to undermine and mock my assertion in his statement to the board, there is an underlying bitterness, anger, and resentment brewing in our nation that is fertile ground for pockets of insurgency and lawlessness. It has happened before, and the short history of our country is filled with examples. In no case did those in revolt fare well against the government. Perhaps Disraeli was right about those who failed to learn from history?

To be clear, I admire and respect our commissioners as individuals. Their willingness to serve is admirable. Their job is not easy. The decisions they are called upon to make affect us all, I have little doubt that they feel the weight of the burden they willing take on. I do not envy them the heaviness of their load. Even so, they are human and prone to errors. I believe that this vote was one of those errors, and while it certainly won’t tip the scales, it nonetheless matters. They are accountable for their decisions, and the actions arising from those decisions. I would be remiss in my responsibility as a citizen not to call it to their attention. Such are the obligations of we who support our democratic republic.

Without Wax,
Anthony Vinson

Red Clay Ministries Takes the Gospel Behind the Razor Wire


Dear Editor, [Note from the Editor: I have chosen to leave this letter online for a while more.]

Did you know that 1 in 3 prisoners who are released will commit another crime and return to prison within 3 years??? Georgia releases 20,000 prisoners per year. Let’s do the math...about 6,000 of those released will be back. The cost in Georgia to house/feed/maintain an individual in prison is $21,000 per year. The 6,000 people returning to prison cost the taxpayers an additional $126 million dollars!!! If we continue to do the math, year after year, the expense to taxpayers is astronomical.

Red Clay Ministries takes the Gospel of Jesus Christ behind the razor wire, and Jesus Christ changes lives. We rarely think of prison ministry in terms of saving taxpayer dollars, but it does. If one person’s life is changed, and they do not return to prison, the Georgia taxpayers save $21,000!!! If only 1% of those released this year do not return to prison, the taxpayers save over $4 million!!! Keep doing the math!!! JESUS SAVES!!!

Dr. Rhonda Morgan

You can find out more about Red Clay Ministries, Inc. at www.redclayministriesinc.org.

Local Ministry Has a Need and It Is You


Dear Editor, [Note from the Editor: I have chosen to leave this letter online for a while more.]

The Pike Outreach Transportation Ministry needs drivers. No CDL is required. No medical degree necessary.

If you can drive one day a week or one day every two weeks you will do. Most important is faithfulness because a dialysis patient can't wait. The van has a chair lift and instruction will be provided. The head of the program passed this need on and I am passing it on to you. Dedicated drivers are needed. Jesus will have your paycheck when you get home.

For more information, call Ann at 678-642-9800 and leave message with your name and phone number.

Steve Hicks