Quick-Kicks And Old-Tricks

(01/30/2001)

Dear Editor:

I was unaware when I wrote, but have been told that you are President of the Calhoun County Commission. My "free kick" and hope that someone would "run with the ball" was, serendipitiously, well directed. But you didn't attempt to catch the ball, let alone run. It hit the ground dead and you quick-kicked it back to Georgia, an old trick I recognized from the Coach Bobby Dodd years at Georgia Tech.

So, Hur doesn't want sixteen-lane expressways with creeping traffic in one direction in the morn, the other in the eve? You don't want the diversity of neighbors who can't speak English? You don't want a "high-tech crescent" where college grads start at over $50,000? You don't want national conventions, or the Olympics, which choke the Atlanta airport? You don't want major sporting events which draw professional jocks in white fur coats who get involved in double murders, get off scotfree, and get elected MVP of the Superbowl? Life is choices, they say.

There is much to be said for the peace and tranquility of the hills, sitting in the outhouse, with the library selection of the Sears-Rareback or Monkey-Wards catalogues to choose from. I wasn't aware that satellite dishes and TVs had been added. I accept your kind offer of a tour, adding it to Jack Cawthon's BRICK outhouse, built on Barbecue Run by the work camps during the Depression.

Segue to the pre-Civil War times when the "Northwestern Counties" complained that the Virginia state capitol didn't send enough money up their way, the real reson they separated. West Virginia has never had, relative to other states, an average economy, and has always been in economic depression. It now whines that Washington doesn't send enough. Now having more miles of Interstate per square mile, WV probably ranks lowest in vehicle miles per mile of Interstate, as these brought no economic boom to the state. The Gazette is concerned that the decayed Kanawha Valley is losing population. The poorer counties are singing the historic ditty that Charleston doesn't send enough money.

A la loss of the clothespin factory in Richwood and the closing of the factory in which I worked in Rome, GA, the low-tech industries have long since been moved overseas. Most of the medium-tech jobs have moved to Mexico. The future, at least short-term, lies in high-tech manufacturing. But, to attract these companies, a "high-tech environment" is needed. As I have, one might go on the Internet and, under Admissions, check out the entrance requirements of the colleges and universities in the state, typically a 2.0 GPA (which means you didn't flunk out of high school) and SAT scores of 800-900 (they give you 200 points if you put your name on both halves of the test). Unlike when I entered in 1955, Georgia Tech now requires a 3.0 and SAT=1330. (Given my superior education at St. Albans High School, I graduated Tech summa cum skin-of-teeth.)

While WV is making great strides in primary and secondary education (was there anywhere to go but up?), perhaps a hard look should be taken at the college level, including the "education" schools. As the only shortage that I see in manufacturing around the country is in technicians, perhaps a good, "strategic", "bang-for-the-buck" analysis might be to de-emphasize funding of colleges and focus on "best-in-the-nation" two-year technical schools? Just another "free kick".

I look forward to meeting you and taking the tour!

John M. Gutermuth
Norcross, Georgia