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Posted: March 13, 2011 6:00 a.m.

Harwell: Tying up loose ends

Tying up loose ends is always difficult, isn't it? Humans wish to project some sense of permanency - some evidence proving that we once actually mattered - into our existence. We are mortal, and we know it, yet we throw up obstacles to prevent us confronting the abyss yawing before us. We will all die, and that scares us. We don't know how to deal with the fact that we - all of us - will perish.

Oh, some of us have faith in a Universal Being. We believe, as hope springs eternal in the human breast, that this life is not the only one we'll experience. But, in the end, nobody knows for certain. We become frightened when, alone and late at night, we consider our own end. So we throw up blinders to prevent us from considering the only thing that really matters, which is what we truly believe about God.

Nonetheless, tying up loose ends presents a tough task. Anyone faced with leaving home on a family vacation knows this all too well. Has newspaper delivery been stopped? Is the post office holding our mail? Are appliances on a timer to make it appear to would-be thieves that the house is occupied? Is everything packed? Do relatives have contact information in the event of an emergency?

It seems that I have a few loose ends to tie up here, as well.

Over 12-plus years of columns, I've addressed the debacle which is the present-day Peace Corps, the despicable public report of more than 100 responses to 9-1-1 calls made from a Newton County Commissioner's residence, matters concerning education, race, religion, politics, and other sensitive subjects.

None has touched off more controversy than last week's reference to a mercury-bromide mixture I mistakenly labeled Mercurochrome. I was called to task in Sunday school and after church. I got phone calls at home. Celebrating my wife's birthday, I was even corrected in a local restaurant.

OK! I was wrong! It was "Tincture of Merthiolate" which burned so badly upon application, not Mercurochrome!

Next, more than a few local citizens have emotionally told me, regarding the upcoming Special Purpose Local Sales Option Tax bill, they believe tax money has paid for advertisements supporting its passage.

Well, I met with Billy Fortson, co-chair of the pro-SPLOST committee, at his Ginn Chevrolet office last week. Billy shared every detail with me regarding the 30 concerned individuals who, of their own volition, favor passage of the SPLOST. No public funds have been spent on their campaign. The issue will be determined Tuesday by everyone concerned enough to vote.

Next, I was miffed when the Covington City Council met to reconsider purchasing abandoned Norfolk Southern rail line property.

I was there the night the council voted never to again consider purchasing the right-of-way, so I visited my Councilman, Chris Smith.

Chris told me that the meeting was announced to the press, so it wasn't "behind closed doors." Turns out that if another entity purchases the five miles of track inside Covington's city limits, the city may - down the road - have to pay exorbitantly for easements across the property for electric, gas, water and sewer lines.

So the Council decided to take another look at the five miles of property inside the city limits strictly for self-preservation purposes.

Yep, tying up loose ends is a tough order for us mortals.

We always seem to miss dotting an "i" or crossing a "t," don't we? I just wanted to set a few things straight today. I appreciate Billy Fortson and the folks who support SPLOST, just as I appreciate local Libertarian Marshall McCart and Pulitzer-Prize-winner Claude Sitton for eloquently opposing the issue.

I'm glad Chris Smith is my city council representative, and I appreciate the council for pro-active contemplations for taxpayers.

Most of all, though, I appreciate readers who corrected me about Mercurochrome: You made me feel that I matter. And that, you see, brings us all back to our dearest hope - that somehow, we've actually mattered to someone.

Nat Harwell is a Covington resident. His column apears Sundays.


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