The Commerce News
October 4, 2000
Stop At Stop Signs?
Don't Be Ridiculous
The Georgia Department of Transportation seemed surprised to
find out that most motorists approaching the bypass on Georgia
326 don't stop at the stop signs.
A study found that in the morning, 76 percent of motorists don't
stop there, while in the evening, 64 percent disregard the stop
Gee, no kidding.
I have no evidence aside from personal experience, but I'd wager
a small sum that the only reason the motorists who stopped there
did so because they had to.
Stop signs in Georgia don't mean stop. They mean slow down a
little to see if anyone else is coming and, if not, just go right
ahead. In effect, they are yield signs.
This is particularly true at railroad grade crossings. I'd been
in Georgia only a few days back in 1971 when I made the mistake
of stopping at a grade crossing on a state highway near Athens.
I thought stop signs meant stop. I heard this screeching sound,
looked in my rear-view mirror and was horrified to see about
20 feet behind my vehicle a skidding car swerving around me to
the left side to avoid crashing into me from the rear. As the
driver drew even with me, he gave me the one-finger salute.
I've been treating stop signs as yield signs ever since.
Aside from students in driver education classes or motorists
who see police nearby, nobody comes to a full stop at a stop
sign unless another motorist has the right of way. That is not
to say that they ignore the signs, though some do. Watch traffic
at any intersection with a stop sign and my words will be proven.
Even the police don't stop at stop signs.
Most of us come pretty close. We get down to one or two mph as
we near the sign, and if there is no one coming, we go on through.
Should a police officer ever pull us over for that offense, we'd
be indignant and insist that we'd stopped.
The reason people get into wrecks on Georgia 326 at the bypass
is that they don't look real closely to see if anyone is coming
on the bypass. They rush across after a near-stop, during which
they quickly glanced both ways, and some of them fail to see
oncoming traffic. If there were stop lights at the intersection,
these same people would stop, wait until the light turned green,
Except for those turning right on red.
A right turn on red is the same as a stop sign, which around
here appears to mean very little.
The DOT thinks the intersection would be safer if the Commerce
Police Department enforced the stop signs there. If the police
ever start writing tickets for stop sign violations, they'd better
order more ticket books and the town council had best prepare
for an onslaught of complaints.
People here call it a "speed trap" when the police
write speeding tickets to motorists traveling 15 or more mph
above the speed limit. If people start getting ticketed for not
coming to a complete stop at stop signs, there will be charges
that Commerce is a police state.
Stop at stop signs? Don't be ridiculous. We'd rather merge our
Want us to stop? Install a traffic light and we'll consider it.
The Jackson Herald
October 4, 2000
Evans as sheriff
For those who've not lived in Jackson
County very long, it's difficult to explain just how far this
community has come in dealing with crime. Certainly, Jackson
County continues to have its share of criminal activity, especially
with thefts and domestic disputes.
But those problems are a far cry from the era when organized
crime was a dominant force here. From organized car thefts to
major bootlegging operations, Jackson County was at one time
a haven for criminals.
That began to change after the murder of district attorney (then
called solicitor) Floyd Hoard in 1969. But progress was slow
and criminal elements still had a hold in some parts of the county.
In 1984, however, a young man was elected as sheriff of Jackson
County who changed all of that. The election of Stan Evans was
a cry by county citizens for help, and Evans not only took the
office, but also lived up to his promise to clean up those criminal
elements in Jackson County.
Since that time, Stan Evans has been returned to the sheriff's
office three times and this November, he is standing for his
fourth term in office.
This newspaper has a lot of contact with the sheriff's department
each week. Although Evans faces some challenges in that department,
a lack of funding to hire and retain staff being the major problem,
the department is stronger today than it's ever been. That's
due to the strong leadership Evans continues to give that organization.
We believe Stan Evans has earned the trust and confidence of
the citizens in Jackson County and should once again be elected
as our sheriff.
Jackson County Opinion Index
The Jackson Herald
October 4, 2000
Comments on the
Let me see if I get this right: A Cobb County teen is arrested
for being a party to a crime, stealing a car and bashing in mailboxes;
is suspended from his school's football team, but his dad then
threatens to sue the school so the boy can play. Dad even writes
a long letter to an Atlanta newspaper defending his actions and
complains that his son is getting a raw deal from that mean ol'school.
MEMO TO DAD: Deal with it. Your son would be better served by
your explaining to him that actions have consequences. He has
to pay a price for his misdeeds. Maybe if he learns that, he'll
grow up to be a wiser man than his dad.
Also in a Cobb County school, officials declare that a 10-inch
chain on a key ring is a dangerous weapon and suspend an 11-year-old
girl for 10 days. This isn't the first time some school administrative
yo-yo has overreacted to the so-called "no tolerance"
with weapons policy. Why is it so difficult to have commonsense
decision-making in our public schools? Based on decisions like
this, you'd think some of our school leaders have lost touch
with reality. MEMO TO YO-YO ADMINISTRATOR: Don't complain about
Gov. Roy Barnes' efforts to reform public schools when you make
dumb decisions like this. No wonder public confidence in public
education has waned.
NEW JOKE: The Atlanta City Council called a meeting next week.
It'll be held in Biloxi.
More teenagers have been hurt and killed in the last few weeks
in car wrecks. But even as the teen death toll mounts, state
legislators complain that raising the age limit for driving might
"hurt" kids who have after-school jobs.
MEMO TO LEGISLATORS: Tell us that after some speeding 16-year-old
kills your son or daughter. In an ideal world, parents would
keep a tighter rein on their 16-year-old kids. But that isn't
happening. For the protection of the rest of us, raise the driving
age to 17.
Last week, I took candidate Mike Beatty to task for mischaracterizing
a 1997 vote made by incumbent Eddie Madden. But Madden isn't
totally innocent of political games. A radio ad from Madden says
that Beatty voted against "children" when he was a
legislator in the early 1990s because he voted against the state
Please, Sen. Madden, don't drag the "we're-doing-it-for-the-children"
theme into your campaign ads. Everything we do is for our children.
A recent study of Georgia's pre-K students found that disruptive
kids take a teacher's time away from other children, slowing
their development. That's news? Do we really need a study to
tell us that disruptive kids are hell for teachers to handle
and that they hurt the education of their peers?
MEMO TO STATE SCHOOL LEADERS: So when are you guys going to admit
that "mainstreaming" disruptive kids into regular classrooms
is an educational flop? Parents have been trying to tell you
that for years. Now that some researcher has concluded the same
thing, will you please do something about it?
Some teachers have been up in arms over the governor's school
reform legislation. They claim that the governor unfairly painted
teachers as the problem and that he didn't give them the "respect"
So what does the GAE, the state's largest teacher union, ask
for in the upcoming legislative session? That group wants a 10
percent pay hike, retirement after 25 years, a reinstating of
teacher tenure and more "sabbatical leave opportunities"
MEMO TO GAE: You had the governor on the defensive by painting
him as a cruel, heartless thug out to get teachers. But with
this legislative agenda, you tossed that political advantage
out the window by making teachers look like a self-serving bunch
of bureaucrats intent on getting more, more, more for themselves.
I don't think teachers are so self-serving, at least not the
ones I know. But with this political stand by the GAE, don't
be surprised if public opinion doesn't swing again in favor of
the governor's efforts to reform education.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
October 4, 2000
Take Over W&S Systems
With a growing water system and a developing
sewerage system, the Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority
has outgrown its ability to effectively manage the utility systems
under its jurisdiction.
The authority has very successfully built a water system over
the past decade and a half that serves most parts of unincorporated
Jackson County. The county's recent acquisition of the old Texfi
waste treatment plant and the deal with Mulberry Plantation put
the authority into the sewerage business. And growth throughout
the county has sharply increased the demand for both services.
Those demands are more taxing than a board of volunteers can
adequately manage. With a new county government taking the reins
Jan. 1, it is time to consider transferring the water and sewerage
operations from the authority to a county water and sewer department.
As it is, the water authority can barely move without the consent
of the board of commissioners, whose backing it needs in everything
from road crossing permits to revenue bonds. It takes intergovernmental
agreements between the county and the authority to finance the
county's portion of construction of the Bear Creek Reservoir
and to sell the county's water. It takes intergovernmental agreements
on bond financing, which runs up legal costs for both groups.
Equally importantly, the details of operating two utility systems
have become too complex to expect unpaid laymen to keep up with
all that is going on.
The Jackson County Water and Sewerage Authority has already done
what it set out to do. Now that a countywide water system is
operational and a sewerage system is being built, it's time to
create a county water and sewerage department that answers directly
to the board of commissioners. The volunteers have done their
job. Since the major decisions of the authority require county
acquiescence anyway and because operations have grown beyond
the ability of a voluntary board to administer, the most efficient
means of operating the systems is with a new county department.