Archive for February 20, 2008

Georgia Senate OKs Moving Tennessee Border to Tap River Water

ATLANTA — Thirsting for more water in the midst of a drought, Georgia lawmakers took a step Wednesday toward moving the state line and tapping into a powerful river in a neighboring state. The state Senate unanimously approved a resolution Wednesday asserting that a flawed 1818 survey mistakenly placed Georgia’s northern line just short of the mighty Tennessee River. The measure also calls for the governor to establish a commission to sort out the dispute. The state House later voted 136-26 to pass a similar plan, which could soon go to Gov. Sonny Perdue.

The legislation alone can’t move the state line. That would require an agreement between Congress and the states, a long-shot prospect that Tennessee officials have scoffed at.

But Georgia lawmakers say they only want what rightly belongs to Georgia.

“Allowing our neighbors to the north to hoard the water in the Tennessee River is simply not an option,” said state Sen. David Shafer, the measure’s sponsor.

Shafer appeared to be dead serious, but his colleagues had a bit of fun with the proposed territorial grab. As he began to speak, supporters in the Senate quietly sang “This Land is Your Land.”

The dispute traces back to a 19th century survey that misplaced the 35th parallel.

If Tennessee’s southern border stretched along the parallel, as Congress designated in 1796, Georgia would have a share of the Tennessee – a river with about 15 times greater flow than the one Atlanta depends on for water.

“At long last it’s time for this matter to be settled,” said Shafer, R-Duluth. “Some have suggested this boundary dispute is about water — and they are in fact right.”

Surveyors now know that the Georgia-Tennessee border was placed about 1.1 miles south of where it should be. But they say borders can’t be updated with every technological advance; that would leave uncertainty about borders everywhere.

Other critics also point out the proposed Georgia-Tennessee border change goes beyond a simple dip into the river. Not only would Georgia get a chunk of Chattanooga, Mississippi would get a slice of Memphis, and thousands of residents could have new home states.

The drought has whetted Georgia’s thirst for the river, but this is far from the first attempt to redo the surveying team’s math.

Shafer’s resolution traces efforts as far back as 1887, when North Carolina – another state affected by the line – authorized its governor to appoint commissioners and a surveyor to meet with neighboring delegations over the boundary. No record of such a meeting exists, it said.

“This body has passed resolution after resolution after resolution asking Tennessee to join with us and accurately mark the line,” said Shafer. “Each time our friends in Tennessee have declined.”

He urged Tennessee to respond in a “neighborly fashion,” but lawmakers there have been less than eager to settle the dispute. Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, for one, has scoffed at the bill as a way to ratchet up a “PR war” between the states.

Some Georgia legislators say it might take a legal battle to prove they are serious.

“If they do not concede that line, we may find ourselves in court,” said state Rep. Harry Geisinger, R-Roswell. “And if you look at cases around the country, we may be in a strong position.”

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Two Missing Pilots Rescued from Gulf of Mexico

PENSACOLA, FL (AP) — The Air Force says two fighter jets and their pilots are missing after they disappeared during a training mission over the Gulf of Mexico.

Eglin Air Force Base spokesman Sgt. Brian Jones says the single-seat F-15 C Eagles disappeared about 2 p.m. CST Wednesday off the Florida Panhandle and that search and rescue efforts are under way. The Coast Guard is responding with three helicopters, a plane and two boats.

Air Force officials are investigating.

“We don’t know what led to the disappearance,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Leonhard, an Air Force spokesman.

“We’ve had no contact from the pilots.”

The Air Force began using the F-15C in 1979. The planes, built by McDonnell Douglas Corp., were deployed to the Persian Gulf in 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm and have since been used in Iraq, Turkey and Bosnia. They can fly up to 65,000 feet and each costs about $30 million, according to the Air Force.

“The F-15 has electronic systems and weaponry to detect, acquire, track and attack enemy aircraft while operating in friendly or enemy-controlled airspace. The weapons and flight control systems are designed so one person can safely and effectively perform air-to-air combat,” according to its description on an Air Force Web site.

 Update: 

PENSACOLA, FL (AP) — The Air Force says both pilots from the two missing fighter jets have been rescued in the Gulf of Mexico.


 

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