GUEST EDITORIAL: Wrong idea for government and religion

The First Amendment Defense Act is one of those proposals that will sound good to almost everybody — until you read beyond the title.

We applaud any effort to defend the First Amendment to the Constitution and its guarantees of Americans’ freedoms of religion, speech, press and peaceable assembly, as well as our right to petition the government.

But defending the First Amendment isn’t what this bill is really about. Introduced by Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, it plays offense more than defense. It’s a new effort by some in Congress to expand the definition of religious freedom to make it something more like religious privilege.

According to the official summary, the bill “prohibits the federal government from taking discriminatory action against a person on the basis that such person believes or acts in accordance with a religious belief or moral conviction that: (1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.”

By “discriminatory action,” it means, among other things, government action to withhold tax exemptions, contracts, loans and licenses to people or corporations that defy federal laws requiring equal treatment of LGBT people.

The proposed law could be used “as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding and to obtain compensatory damages or other appropriate relief against the federal government.”

Sen. Lee has said the bill is pushback against the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage. It is meant to provide legal protection, should protection be needed, for religious groups that object to gay marriage.

This worries advocates of the LGBT community, who fear the bill could allow a business to deny time off to a gay or lesbian employee to care for an ailing spouse, an insurance company to deny coverage to a gay couple or a school to refuse to accept the child of gay parents.

It also should worry those who believe in what Thomas Jefferson called “a wall of separation between church and state.”

Americans should be free to believe and worship as they choose without interference from the government. They should not be able to wave their religious beliefs as Get Out of Jail Free cards to get around democratically elected laws that apply to everybody else.

Finally, Americans who believe in limited government should oppose a bill that would have the legal system act as a biased referee, tilting the playing field to the advantage of people of faith.

This wouldn’t strengthen the First Amendment. It would twist the First Amendment’s fundamental value.

 

Update: Ballots all counted, Thaxton to be new District 2 commissioner

Update as of 8:15 p.m. 

With all the votes counted, Polk County’s District 2 Commission race is over and a new member will be joining the board when the new term starts on Jan. 1, 2017. 

Chuck Thaxton came out as the winner of the seat with 746 votes, or 56 percent to 569 votes, or 43 percent for incumbent Ray Barber. 

Thaxton said after results were posted by the Board of Elections at the county administration offices in Cedartown that he was thankful for voters choosing him as their new representative on the Board of Commissioners, and thanked Ray Barber for her service. 

“Ray has served this community for several terms, and I give him praise for putting his name out there,” Thaxton said. “He went through a lot of fights, so I congratulate him for what he’s done.” 

Thaxton said that his first focus once he takes office in January will be on public safety and protection of the citizens. 

“We can always improve,” he said. “The volunteer system at the fire department is a good example. They work hard, but they need help. And we need to tackle some of the issues with crime and drugs in our community, and the only way you can do that is by putting more police officers on the street.” 

Barber, who will finish out his term in December, said that he was ready to hand off the job to Thaxton after the holidays later this year. 

“There’s a lot of turmoil in our country, and also in our county,” Barber said. “I hope that we can all move forward and make progress.” 

Barber said that he’s enjoyed serving through good times and bad, and that “I’m excited for Mr. Thaxton to have the opportunity to move our county forward.” 

Update: 

With the polls closed and votes continuing to be counted, the numbers are increasing for Chuck Thaxton and Ray Barber in the 2016 primary run-off to determine the next District 2 commissioner for Polk County. 

Thaxton remained in the lead with 494 votes over Barber’s 365 votes as two precincts – Fish Creek and Lake Creek – have submitted all their ballots and had them counted, adding to the early vote total. 

Check back for more updates over the next hours as the votes continue to come in. 

Previously posted: 

The polls are closed in Polk County, and the first round of election results are now available as the count of the early vote from the past several weeks is counted. 

The 684 ballots cast starting on July 5 and closing on July 22 has challenger Chuck Thaxton in the lead for the Polk County Commission District 2 GOP nomination over incumbent Ray Barber. 

Thaxton had 399 votes, or 58.33 percent of the total so far compared to Barber’s 285 votes, or 41.67 percent of the ballots. 

With no Democratic candidates running for office in 2016 in Polk County, this primary run-off will determine who the next commissioner will be starting in January 2017. 

Check back for updates on the vote total in Polk as the count continues at the Board of Elections.

Rasbury edges out Silvers in Republican Primary Runoff Election

Calhoun businessman Pat Rasbury has defeated incumbent Ricky Silvers in the Republican Primary Runoff Election for Gordon County Chief Magistrate.

Only 2356 voters turned out for the runoff election, with Rasbury garnering 58.47 percent of the vote, with Silvers receiving 41.53 percent.

In the General Primary in May, Silvers received 44.81 percent of the vote, with Rasbury receiving 34.14 percent. A third candidate, Larry Bain, received 21.05 percent of the vote. Because none of the candidates received the required 50 percent plus one vote during the general primary, the runoff was held to decide the Republican nominee for the office.

Things to do in Cherokee County Wednesday, July 27

The Family Care Center in the Piggly Wiggly Shopping Center in Centre includes a Thrift Store open to the public Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. The Family Care Center helps others by giving clothing, food and possibly hope to families in their time of need. The Center asks for your help by supporting its thrift stores. There are currently three locations, the one in Centre, another at 5511 Main St. in Hokes Bluff and another in Cedar Bluff. The Center is currently helping more than 100 families per week and thanks the community for its continued support. Director is Cindy McGinnis.

The Party Bridge Match is played at the Fort Payne Senior Center. For more information, call 256-927-7754.

A Varsity Girls Volleyball Camp will be held at Gadsden State. For more information call 256-390-3565.

Visit the beautiful Rock Village, home of some of the best hiking and rock climbing throughout the world. Enjoy fresh air and beautiful scenery. Go to the intersection of U.S. Highway, to the intersection of County Road 36 and County Road 70, turn left and follow 411 and Highway 68 in Leesburg, turn right, turn left on Cherokee County 36 the signs.

Visit the historical Cornwall Furnace on Cherokee County Road 92 in Cedar Bluff.

Ensley: Crape Myrtles – A summer sensation

Polk County Extension Office is located at 20 N. Main Street, Cedartown. Phone 770-749- 2142 or email uge2233@uga.edu

Crape Myrtles have put on their dazzling display lately. Crape Myrtles are a flowering tree that needs care.

As Crape Myrtle flowers fade, they turn to small hard green seedpods. Carefully cut these off, re-fertilize and water the trees to extend their season of glory.

Crape Myrtles may bloom again. Be careful not to cut off the new flower buds. They are probably forming just behind the old ones. For fertilization, use two cups of 10-10- 10 per 100 square feet of bed space. Spread it evenly around the plant and water it in.

Crape Myrtles need pruning of the unwanted branches at the base of the plant.

These “water sprouts” or shoots make the plant look unsightly and are best removed as soon as possible. Also, remove any weeds and renew the mulch around the trees.

We prefer to have two to four inch deep mulch around the tree out to the drip line.

Look out for pests. Aphids (aka plant lice) are 1/8 inch long and pear-shaped.

They suck plant juice and give off a clear residue, which sticks to plant leaves. This is called honeydew. A sooty mold grows on this residue. The mold can be scraped off with your fingernail.

Control aphids with regular sprays of insecticidal soap, malathion, cyfluthrin, bifenthrin or other labeled chemicals. Read and follow all label directions carefully.

A new chemical may give season-long control of aphids and other sucking pests.

Bayer Tree and Shrub Insect Control contains imidacloprid and can be used as a drench around many ornamentals. Control can last up to a growing season. Always read and follow all label directions when using any pesticide.

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More facts about this colorful addition to local landscapes:

Crape myrtles need full sun — eight hours or more of direct sun daily — in order to thrive and bloom Crape myrtles will not be their best will less than eight hours of direct sun light. Gardeners should check the sun patterns in their yards before planting crape myrtles.

Crape myrtles thrive in slightly acidic soils with a pH of about 6 to 6.5. If the pH level is off, the plant will not use fertilizer properly and the gardener will be left with substandard crape myrtles. You should take a soil sample to your local Extension office for testing if you don’t know your soil’s pH.

Prune in late winter, fertilize in early spring

Gardeners should prune the trees so that they maintain a natural shape and to thin out branches and allow light into the canopy. You should not cut off the top of your crape myrtle trees. This pruning method is so drastic it is often referred to as “crape murder.”

Local Sports: Tickets available for Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame banquet

Tickets are on sale now for the 2016 Calhoun-Gordon County Sports Hall of Fame banquet to be held on Aug. 13 at Georgia Northwestern Technical College’s Gordon Campus.

The seven-member Class of 2016 will be inducted during the banquet and the 1952 Calhoun High football team, which won the program’s first state championship, will also be honored.

Tickets are $35 and that includes a steak dinner. Seats are limited. Tickets can be purchased by contacting one of the Hall’s Board of Directors. For more info on the Hall, visit www.cgcshf.com.

Rev. Dewey Ernest Bailey

Rev. Dewey Ernest Bailey, 96, of Cave Spring, passed away Sunday afternoon, July 24, 2016 in a Rome hospital following a brief illness. Rev. Bailey was born in Dawson County, and was a veteran of WW II, having served in the the Army Air Corp and later the Fourth Armored Division at the Battle of the Bulge under Gen. George Patton. He was a member and a past pastor of the Cave Spring United Methodist Church, and chose to make his home here since 1965. He also served as pastor to other Methodist Churches in the area including Jackson Chapel UMC, Livingston UMC, Shannon UMC, South Broad UMC and his last pastorate Anna Kresge United Methodist Church in Cedartown. Rev. Bailey was also the Chaplin at Georgia School for the Deaf for over 40 years.

In keeping with his wishes, Rev. Bailey will be cremated and a memorial service for him will be held later at the Cave Spring United Methodist Church. Those arrangements will be announced at that time.

Rev. Bailey was preceded in death by his wife, Hattie Reagan Bailey, and by his brother, John D. Bailey.

Survivors include his son, David Bailey and his wife Julie of Cave Spring, daughter, Mrs. Martha Jo McWhorter and her husband Dale of Franklin, Georgia, one grandson, and five great-grandchildren,

Rev. Baily was the son of the late John Earl Bailey and the late Della Chastain Bailey.

Final Fourth Friday concert loads of fun in Cedartown

Cedartown residents came out despite the heat to enjoy one final summer show on July 22, for the last of the Fourth Friday concert series for 2016.

The show featured the Redneck Romeos (above,) the monthly Throttle Jockeys car show, and much more.

Now that the series is finished for the year, the City of Cedartown will join with sponsors in organizing the coming year’s events for the season, which will start in early summer 2017.

Meanwhile, the Throttle Jockeys will continue to meet for their car cruise-ins on the fourth fridays of the month through the fall.