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Monday, Jan. 21, 2002

By Staff
Bonita: Once it's gone it's gone for good
To the editor:
The citizens of ancient Troy would have had no trouble recognizing (Mayor) John Robert Smith's Cooper land deal, and would remind us, "to beware of Greeks bearing gifts." Cooper gets our course, and we get their shaft.
The Cooper deal is BAD environmental policy, BAD economic policy, BAD public policy, and all too typical of recent governmental decisions.
I have total respect for the citizens who have spoken and written trying to protect our Bonita property from Cooper destruction. All those summers ago when even I was young, my father used to take me to Bonita. We would fish and I would play in the woods. After living in New Orleans, I called going to Bonita, "going to the country." Bonita is not our crown jewel, it is our only jewel. Bonita is the only thing unique to Meridian that sets us apart from other small towns. Once John Robert and Cooper destroy Bonita, God's gift to Meridian will be gone forever.
Central Park could be sold for commercial purposes for vast sums of money, but New York and New Yorkers would be the worse for it. We must view Bonita as our Central Park, and save it.
But the Cooper "deal" has many other problems. Even the sale of 300 homes in that area would be a strain on our market during the next thirty years, only possible at the expense of all other non-subsidized home builders. Three thousand additional houses is a joke. And since it is taxpayer money and land being given away, the joke is on us.
How many millions of tax dollars will taxpayers have to spend to provide Cooper with water, sewer, roads, highway interchanges, police and fire protection, and other municipal services? What assurances do we have that Cooper will keep up their part of the deal after we give them golf courses, lake, land, timber, and money?
And why is land so cheap when the public "sells" to Cooper, and so damn expensive when we buy from the Malone Ranch boys? Why do we have to pay cash, and Cooper gets to pay over 25 years? What about the rights of citizens who have enjoyed Long Creek for years.
Everyone supports true progress, but this Cooper "deal" is a sham. Cooper is more than welcome to buy land in Lauderdale county, build a lake and golf course, and profit as much as they can from their investment. But no sane/honest person would lease public land at a dollar an acre per week for 25 years.
The public property at Long Creek and Bonita should be held as a public trust for the benefit for future generations of Meridian citizens, not destroyed for Cooper's profit.
William Hugh Johnson
Meridian
Stonewall jobs lost to foreign labor'
To the editor:
An open letter to the people of Clarke County and across the nation who have lost their jobs to foreign labor:
Will anybody out there defend us? We've all but given up on the federal government's help. And, if they won't help, then who do we turn to next  our employers? Not! They're only interested in lining their own pockets.
I, along with hundreds of others in Clarke County am about to find myself unemployed. Who are we to blame? Not ourselves, that's for sure! If there has ever been a group of people who rose to the challenge of improving quality and production, it has been the Burlington employees at the Stonewall Casualwear plant.
A year ago, we were a group of individuals working for a paycheck. The plant had consistently lost money through off-quality and poor production. But, in one year we became a team, a family if you will. At the end of September quarter, we had made over an $800,000 profit. Pretty good for a bunch of country bumpkins, don't you think?
Our reward for pulling together to make such a difference was to hear through the media that we were being closed down. Not heartbreaking enough for you? How about learning that your severance, if you get any at all, is going to be cut 50 percent while the people who profited from your improvements were getting incentives worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to fire you.
Hats off to the upper management at the Stonewall plant. They fought a good fight. It's like David defeating Goliath, only to be killed by the very people he was fighting to protect.
How much more do we have to help other countries? Isn't it enough that billions of our tax dollars go towards feeding them and funding their wars? Do we also have to give them our jobs as well? When is someone going to step up and say enough is enough? Everyone is talking about fighting terrorism I say that the biggest terror of all is waking up to find that the real threat to our society is our own corporations and government.
I consider it a privilege to have been associated with the people in our surrounding areas. My prayer for you is that God will give you the strength and the way as you pursue employment away from family, friends and the place you've called home for so many years … but, hey, I hear they are hiring south of the border!
So, to all of you who are going to be standing with me in the unemployment line, I say that next time you go to vote, think about how little your current representatives have fought to keep your jobs at home, and give credit to those who have.
God Bless America 'cause nobody else will.
Joey Smith
Production Supervisor Burlington
Stonewall

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