A Georgia lawmaker is proposing a creative, if unlikely, way to challenge the location of the boundary between Tennessee and Georgia.
Rep. Tom Weldon, R-Ringgold, is talking up a bill that would offer Georgia’s HOPE scholarship benefits to Tennesseans who live south of the 35th parallel. That’s a swath of far southern Tennessee that includes part of Chattanooga and East Ridge.
Some in Georgia contend that the existing boundary was set too far south back in 1826. It seems a stone marker was placed a mile south from where it should have been. The issue heated up in recent years as Georgia has struggled to find enough water to meet its needs. Tennessee, fortunately, has an ample supply in the Tennessee River, and Georgia could get access to that water if its state boundary were moved north.
Weldon says his plan would extend HOPE benefits to people in the disputed area. He says it has nothing to do with gaining access to water for thirsty Georgians and “everything to do with offering valid Georgia citizens benefits and the ability to participate in the programs of the state of Georgia.”
Not surprisingly, Tennessee officials have little interest in ceding part of our territory to our neighbor to the south — or in letting Georgia tap water from the Tennessee River.
But state Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, welcomed any scholarships that Georgia might wish to offer “to Tennessee residents.”
Georgia is a good neighbor, but we suspect most Tennesseans in the disputed area would just as soon remain Vols rather than become Bulldogs.