More Jackson County Opinions...

June 13, 2001


Column
By Rochelle Beckstine
The Jackson Herald
June 13, 2001

Breaking the law is breaking the law
"Speed trap: a section of a road where hidden policemen, radar, etc., carefully check the speed of motorists and strictly enforce traffic regulations" -The Random House Dictionary of the English Language
Speed traps are illegal.
Carefully checking the speed of vehicles and strictly enforcing traffic regulations doesn't seem like it should be illegal. It sounds to me like someone is going out of their way to keep the roadways safe. Speeding vehicles are most often the cause of fatal crashes. So stopping speeders would save lives. Strictly enforcing the law would reduce crime.
The only part about the definition that throws up red warning lights is "hidden." For something to not be a "speed trap," according to state law, the police officer's vehicle must be visible to motorists for at least 500 feet before they reach his position. That's 500 feet to slow down. Five hundred feet in which you thank God that speed traps are illegal and you'll be able to get off this time and the next time and the time after that because you have 500 feet to slow down. What does the 500 feet do anyway besides give you a chance to get away? There is no safety reason for motorists to have 500 feet that I can think of. It's like catching a fat bass, letting it off the hook, placing it back in the water and hoping it doesn't swim away before you can get your net around it. How many times is it going to stick around anyway? The bass would be stupid not to swim away in the same way the motorist would be stupid to not slow down.
If you're slowing down as you approach the cop, are you not guilty of driving 10 or 15 miles over the speed limit? Don't you do it again the next time you're running late? Traffic regulations weren't designed to be followed only when police officers are around. They were designed to save lives. If people followed all the laws, there would be no need for police. Since we have police, we need to let them do their job. Speeders need tickets, despite where the police car is sitting. You shouldn't complain. Other laws aren't handicapped by yardage regulations. Drug busts aren't set up by uniformed cops with sirens blaring. That would let the bad guy get away.
Let's face it. The policeman is not in your car urging you to go faster. He's not pressing down the accelerator. You're speeding. It's your decision.
In its infinite wisdom, the state has decided to not only illegalize speed traps as defined by Random House, but they have also expanded the definition to include a number of other offenses. One of the most ridiculous is that no law enforcement agency can have 40 percent or more of its revenue from speeding fines after speeding violations over 17 mph are excluded. The state calls these revenue-based speed traps. When a revenue-based speed trap exists, the state assumes that the detection devices are being used for "purposes other than the promotion of the public health, welfare and safety" (Georgia Code Section 40-14-11 D). According to the law, the state only considers someone going 18 miles per hour over the speed limit to be a public threat. All other speeding stops are merely a means of revenue. That means I could whiz through downtowns all over the state at 52 miles per hour and I could technically only be stopped at most four times out of 10. Stopping me more than that would endanger the police department's use of speed detection devices. Their town could be branded a revenue-based speed trap and then they wouldn't be able to stop speeders. Does this make sense to anyone?
These rules seem like something cooked up by someone like our state insurance commissioner who uses his blue lights for non-emergency situations. Too many people have been allowed to profit from the current regulations. It's time to give cops back the right to stop speeders anywhere, no matter the speed they're traveling at.
Rochelle Beckstine is a reporter for Mainstreet Newspapers.

 


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Column
By Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
June 13, 2001


A memorable Memorial Day
I have no idea when Memorial Day became a national holiday. Being an old World War II veteran, I guess I've lived through all of them. But I've never felt so remembered, recognized, honored - and humbled - as I was on May 25, 2001.
I suspect over 100 other old soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guardsmen felt the same way.
Listen to this:
"On this Memorial Day weekend let us recognize and honor all our service men and women who have served our nation at home and abroad, and especially those of our World War II generation."
It gets better:
"Our nation owes a tremendous debt to the group of men and women Tom Brokaw called 'The Greatest Generation'- those who served our nation both on the battlefields and in the factories during World War II. This is the group about whom Winston Churchill spoke, 'Never have so many owed so much to so few.' These Americans (from 1939 to 1945) were the manpower and womanpower that saved the world."
There is more:
"We, as your sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, great-grandsons and great-granddaughters, friends and neighbors, wish to express our appreciation and say 'Thank You' for the unbelievable magnitude of the accomplishments and sacrifices you made. We acknowledge that the luxuries we enjoy in this great nation are available to us because of you."
Most of us who sat in the bright sun on the track at Panther Stadium that day swelled with pride - and perhaps felt a twinge of guilt - as the Jackson County school superintendent spoke those words.
I heard more than one old "hero" say something like "We just did our job."
We turned the page of the program and came face to face - OK, heart to heart - with the real heroes, the 116 Jackson Countians who died doing their job: 20 in World War I, 77 in World War II, 10 in the Korean War and nine in the Vietnam War.
As JCCHS teacher and Vietnam veteran Dana Richier called their names, and ROTC students placed American flags on crosses and band member Valerie Worley played Taps, there were not many dry eyes in the stadium.
For those of us who survived the hell of war, and on behalf of the 116 who were there in spirit, we accept your thanks, Jackson County Board of Education, for a most memorable Memorial Day.
To Andy Byers, himself a Vietnam veteran, and to board members Kathy Wilbanks, Jill Elliott, Stephanie Kitchen, Tim Brooks and Ed Tolbert, we owe you a debt of gratitude for reminding us that America cares and is still beautiful.
To band director Miles Adams, chorus director Todd Chandler, Col. Tom Taylor and Sgt. Sam Thompson of the ROTC, John Rudio of the Civil Air Patrol cadets, master of ceremonies Richier, secretary Amanda Hewell and to all the administrators, teachers and staff at JCCHS, thanks for making us feel important.
Now, let's cut to the chase. So Tom Brokaw called us old codgers "The Greatest Generation." And maybe we were - in the late 1930s and early '40s. But generation follows generation, and this old man believes the greatest generation is yet to be. If I didn't believe that, I'd be in favor of turning out the lights - right now.
Why do I believe we ain't seen nothing yet?
There were over 400 high school students on the football field that May day, playing their instruments, singing their songs, doing their drills - all with disciplined, military precision. They were attentive, sharp, graceful, proud - as they did their jobs. Much like the old soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and coast guardsmen who did their jobs six decades ago and were now watching their young replacements.
After the formal program ended, the young men and women were friendly, courteous, articulate, respectful.
I couldn't help but think of the generation that preceded them: their parents, and how encouraging and supportive they have been through the pre-teen and teenage years.
Grandparents and great-grandparents were there, too, some of them sitting in the sun on the track at Panther Stadium, being recognized as "The Greatest Generation," wanting more than anything in the world to pass on that greatness.
All of the people who filled the stadium that day - from little babies to old soldiers who never die - that's why I believe America's greatest generation will always be on the horizon.
And then there is one personal reason. This young man, an unknown soldier (to me, anyway), strong and handsome in his ROTC uniform, marched briskly to my side, turned and faced me, hung an undeserved achievement medal around my neck, looked me straight in the eye, shook my hand, said "thank you," and saluted me as crisply as any soldier I met in World War II.
I was proud and honored to return his salute. Thank you, young man, and thanks to all your comrades, for making Memorial Day 2001 so memorable.
Virgil Adams is a former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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