Banks County Opinions...

APRIL 28, 2004


Letter to the Editor

The Banks County News
April 28, 2004

Defends actions on speed breaker
Dear Editor:
I am a resident of Narramore Way and although my husband and I were person enough to stand up for what is right, some people want to take it so personal. Let me tell you I have not once considered this personal against anyone. My husband and I do not bother with anyone else’s business nor do my husband and I know enough about most of the residents to even consider it personal.
I would like to make everyone aware of a few things though. For starters, in the article, “Residents protest more speed bumps,” in the April 21 edition, Kenneth Griffin started off by saying: “each driver of the road should have a say in the installation of the existing five speed bumps on the three quarter mile road.” I have talked to many people and they said they were either not aware of them being put in or didn’t even live here when they were installed. Well, we did not even live here when the existing bumps were installed, and nor are there already five speed bumps in this subdivision. There are only four existing. It looks as though all of you that travel over all of these everyday would know how many there are.
Eddie Reeves made the comment that his wife was videotaped and considered this as confrontational. He also said that a number of folks were put out by this tactic. Well, let me tell you there is nothing illegal about videotaping. People are videotaped everyday. The majority of these people aren’t even aware of this. When you go to Wal-Mart, K-Mart, the gas stations, down the expressways and intestates of Atlanta do you feel put out or do you feel that it is confrontational. For the majority, they go on about their business and think nothing of it. The ones that stop and think about this are usually the ones that have something to hide or in this case have been caught, maybe not necessarily speeding but per say going faster than anyone should in a residential neighborhood. As for the video, that was a last resort because a few of you have been asked to slow down and you ignored it or got nasty. I am not sorry for doing this nor will I say it won’t happen again. Whether you want to believe that Milton Turner suggested to us to video tape is up to you, but he wasn’t the only one that suggested it.
Eddie Reeves went on to say that “besides if someone travels faster than 25 mph, there would be some serious damage to the car.” Then when the next opposing person stood to speak which was Sharon Freeman she said “three of her vehicles had been damaged going over the speed bumps which she thinks are too high.” Nica Jardine opposing stood up after Sharon and “claimed to have lost two vehicles to the speed bumps which ruined the undercarriages.” I don’t know what everyone thinks but to me this sounds to me like a speed problem.
Reeves went on to say “that the sheriff’s office and state patrol had checked out the road and did not find anyone speeding and thought the existing five speed bumps were enough.” My answer, yes, the sheriff’s office has been out on several occasions. The problem is that they would come out in the middle of the day, ride through and they were gone. The state patrol has been out on only one occasion and even then they weren’t able to stay long and, of course, common sense tells you that if you see an officer you slow down. I don’t recall seeing Mr. Reeves in my yard both times Sargent Jarrard stood in my driveway and told my husband and I that he didn’t know how we could fix the problem with people speeding through, but it definitely wouldn’t hurt to have an additional speed breaker installed between bump two and three, and that the number two bump should have never been placed in the curve to begin with. Sargent Jarrard also stated that there was too much of an open straight away and that motorist were able to gain too much speed coming in and going out.
On one occasion, Ed Barfield came out and sat for a while and he did witness a resident entering the subdivision crossing breaker one, gaining speed, and never even slowing down for breaker two. Ed Barfield proceeded to stop the lady. Barfield later stated to us that he stopped the lady and asked her was she aware of how fast she was going and was she aware that she never slowed down for the breaker. He made the comment to her that she was going so fast that she almost knocked her hubcap off.
On a separate occasion, and many of them, my husband, many of our neighbors, and myself have been passed both entering and leaving the subdivision. I can’t speak for my neighbors, but I know my husband and I both travel between 5 and 15 mph. To be passed at these speeds only means a few things. One, you are in too big of a hurry, two, you need to slow down, and three, you are at an even greater risk of putting someone’s life in danger. Young or old.
Some of the residents want to say that an additional speed breaker will not help or fix the problem. Well let me ask you this. The majority of people see a speed breaker and automatically think to slow down. Wouldn’t that hold the same for an additional one. It just wouldn’t make sense to slow down for four of them and then just disregard one of them. If some people want to say that a speed breaker /table won’t help, well obviously they do to some extent otherwise they wouldn’t have called them speed breakers and they wouldn’t have placed them in front of schools, malls, or other heavily populated areas.
As for the children playing in the roadway, and this being an issue of parental control, can anyone stand up and prove to me that you or your child is perfect. That not one time in your’s or their life have you or your child ever gone to your mail box, walked across the street to visit with a neighbor, walk up or down the street to get some exercise, or ridden a bike, ATV, skates, skateboard, or etc. in the roadway. No, you can’t. It’s not an issue of parental control. It seems to me as if some people just want to act childish. You can be hit by a driver just as easy doing the things I mentioned above and just as easy if you were playing in the road. I’m not saying that it can only happen between speed breaker two and three, because it could very well be right in front of one of your homes. Different people have different ways of viewing things and I can understand that, but the point that comes across in my mind its that the ones that are protesting aren’t willing to make sacrifices just to keep someone else’s kid safe. As long as it’s not happening in their little group of housing, they are okay. It’s just like Kenneth Griffin stood in my front yard and civilly talked with my husband and I for over an hour about this matter and he said “I didn’t realize there was a problem with the speeders. I don’t live in this stretch of road so I don’t know what goes on down through here.” Kenneth stood around some time longer and got to witness first hand about three cars that seemed to be doing at least 45 mph. Kenneth looked at my husband and I and said “ I see now what you are talking about, those cars were going faster than they should. I wish now I hadn’t even started this petition.”
All we are asking is that people just slow down and be more aware of their surrounding. You never know when someone or something will run, jump, roll, etc. out in front of you. After all this is a residential neighbor hood.
Sincerely,
Melissa Whitfield
Lula

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Column

By: Shar Porier
The Banks County News
April 28, 2004

Let’s talk tacky
Suppose you had just closed a deal on several acres of land and had plans to build a $200,000 home. You drive to the courthouse, park your car and take the short walk to the courthouse steps.
There you see four bedraggled chairs sitting next to a concrete flower pot filled with sand and cigarette butts. In one of those chairs you see a man sitting taking a few drags. You pass on through the cloud of smoke and head for the planning office. When you learn that the man you saw sitting out there was the chairman of the county board of commissioners, you wince at the thought and wonder at the wisdom in the decision that has just cost you thousands of dollars.
This scenario is not far-fetched, nor is it fictitious. It has happened. More than once.
I go to the courthouse regularly in the course of my work as a reporter. I hear many things and have been asked many questions from people, some residents, and some newcomers. The first time I was asked not only why such tacky chairs sit out front, but also why the county allows smoking at the courthouse doors, I cringed. Recently, a mature couple looking for the deed office asked a similar question.
“I guess the county doesn’t have an ordinance,” I replied, “but you can go ask the guy out front, he’s the chairman.” They looked at me incredulously. “Yes, that’s the chairman.”
It’s awkward. I can joke and think to myself, “the only thing missing is a couch and a flea-bitten hound dog lazily snoozing on it,” but…honestly, it hits me in the heart.
I like to think Banks County has made headway shaking off the image of a redneck, rural community. Banks was the butt of jokes when I first came here 15 years ago. Now, there is new blood finding refuge from the hassles of suburbia in our beautiful countryside. Up-scale communities are being marketed. We have a golf course that offers another level of community living with the potential to become an important economical asset. Banks is being discovered and people like what they see.
Our commission chairman, however, has chosen to make us look like rural hicks, disrespected the seat of our county government and does not care. Does not care about the non-smokers, or people with allergies or kids who have to pass through the cloud of second-hand smoke. I can’t help but wonder what went wrong, why he did this.
However, blame cannot be placed solely on his shoulders. There are two commissioners who have been negligent in tending to the situation. They have let it go on for months. That, too, I find puzzling.
But questions and excuses are not as important as acknowledging the problem and doing something about it.
This is important to me, as I’m sure it is to many, many others. In good faith, I would like to help by offering this simple, expedient solution. First, get rid of those tacky chairs and restore dignity to our courthouse. As there is a side door on the ground floor of the courthouse that opens to a secluded, sheltered area, employees have an immediate alternative area where they can have their smoke break without offending or affecting anyone.
Second, on behalf of public health and welfare enact a policy that sets an effective no-smoking boundary. Lastly, designate a smoking area for the public, buy a couple of wooden benches, build a canopy and make it a pleasant place. As a final touch, get some “butt-stops” for discarded cigarettes and put some flowers in the concrete planters.
Do I hear a motion?
Shar Porier is a reporter for The Banks County News.


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