Left on red? Oh Lawd, who goan he'p us now? The new traffic lights that are the centerpiece of the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT)'s long-heralded revamp of Trenton's central intersection at highways 11 and 136 are now functioning--but as for civilization as we know it, the jury's still out.
The new lights have a flashing-yellow-arrow mode that allows motorists--brace yourself, Gentle Reader--to turn left on red, violating traffic precepts that were enacted at the dawn of time, roughly contemporaneous with the invention of the wheel. Or, as Shakespeare put it, Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air!
The GDOT website, dot.ga.gov, verifies that the flashing yellow arrow means, "OK to turn left after yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians." The site claims the new feature, which provides for what GDOT refers to as "the permissive left," is "cost-effective, proven, innovative and safe."
GDOT says FHWA (Federal Highway Administration) studies found that flashing yellow arrows:
Help reduce left turn crashes by 35 percent;
Move more traffic through an intersection, easing traffic congestion;
Reduce vehicle idling and air pollution.
Which factoids do not contradict the basic problem with the arrow, which is that: It. Is. Wrong. Drivers must still not go straight on red, but they have for some decades been allowed to turn right--and now they are allowed to turn left? What, then, of the Rule of Law?
But Sgt. Chad Payne, information officer for the Dade Sheriff's Office verified that the New Order is jake with the local constabulary, and County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley said it has caused no problems yet as far as he knows. "I questioned it myself," he said. "I thought maybe they'd come back later and adjust it."
But no, said the Boss, GDOT is installing the new lights all over the state, and he saw one himself in Fort Oglethorpe over the holidays.
So now that GDOT and the cops have given their blessing to turning left on red, readers are cautioned to watch out for flying pigs as they hurry across town to the ice hockey game in Hell, because all bets are off and no holds are barred. What's next? Doctors advising teens to take up smoking? All The Planet, and Mr. S., can say is: "Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!"
The Planet was making one of its small jokes about teens smoking, but in point of fact a press release issued this morning from the Georgia Department of Public Health announced that the Dade schools system had only just "become the 123rd school district in Georgia to adopt the 100 percent Tobacco-Free Schools (TFS) policy, which makes schools in all 10 counties comprising the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) Northwest Health District --Bartow, Catoosa, Chattooga, Dade, Floyd, Gordon, Haralson, Paulding, Polk, and Walker--tobacco free." In the above DPH photo, Dade Schools Superintendent Jan Harris, flanked by Dade Health Dept. Nurse Manager Tammy Franklin (left) and DPH District Director Unini Odama, displays the smoke-free sign to which Dade schools are now entitled.
Dade is a small, rural county at the extreme northwest tip of the state, cut off from the others by geography, and change seems to arrive last here every time. In competitions, Dade always seems to be coming in Honorable Mention or Miss Congeniality--The Planet gets used to typing "among the top 17" and such--but 123rd? What's with that? The Planet asked Dr. Harris. Hadn't smoking been a no-no at Dade schools for some years already?
Yes, said the super: "Tobacco use has been prohibited by state law/school rules," she emailed. "But I think the difference is that now all campuses are tobacco free by all people 24/7."
She did not specify which schools had, until the TFS edict, allowed tobacco use, where, when and by whom. But whatever the case was in the past, tobacco use is now officially verboten in Dade Schools--and The Planet has learned there are 181 schools systems in Georgia, meaning that Dade at least beat 58 of 'em to the tobacco-free finish line.
Ann-Other Aweigh, My Boys! Another item: The Planet had earlier reported that the Ann-Other Florist Shop, an anchor business on the Trenton town square, was fixin' to pull up that metaphorical nautical accoutrement and sail north on Main. It has now done so, and found a new mooring next to Ken's Hair Salon. Its old building (right) was formerly partially dormitory space for Southern Lineman Training Center students. That trend is now poised to continue.
Residential rental space is, incidentally, at a premium in Dade County these days; meanwhile, though, deserted commercial storefronts abound.
Next: Who needs Wonder Woman? We've got Amazin' Jennifer McNeece! During one of The Planet's erratic, near-diurnal orbits around Dade County, The Planet's oil light came on but The Planet's oil cap would not come off. Neither The Planet nor any male within The Planet's gravitational pull could budge the stubborn cap.
How fortunate that Jennifer McNeece of Advance Auto Parts, where The Planet had purchased a quart of oil, was willing to step out to the parking lot and show the guys how to get R done! Ms. McNiece blushed modestly when informed she was advancing the cause of Dade womanhood exponentially but admitted: "People are always asking me if they can talk to the manager. They're surprised when I tell them, well, I am the manager."
All The Planet can say is, "You go, girl!" Oh, and thanks!
Baby, it's cold outside! (You may have noticed.) It's been a chilly winter so far, and before the holidays the Dade County Public Library, as is its custom, decorated a Christmas tree (below) on its lawn with scarves, gloves and woolly hats to be taken free by anyone who needed them.
But what did we know then? Since New Year's Eve, night lows have been in the low teens--colder than that on the mountains; a Lookout neighbor reported 5 degrees F this
morning--with only a couple of days predicted to reach temperatures above freezing this week. The photo above is a file shot of the Blue Hole in Sitton's Gulch at Cloudland Canyon State Park, but colloquial reports abound of frozen ponds, frozen troughs--and frozen pipes.
County Executive Chairman Ted Rumley says most of the cold-related problems have been residential so far, with the exception of a small drain problem at the county jail that he said was fixed in a matter of minutes. But he reminds citizens to drip their water to prevent their pipes from freezing and to remember that--as was the case at the county clink--drains as well as incoming pipes can freeze over and cause what seems like a leak. Also, says the Boss, don't forget your animals. You might think Fido's a tough customer and can make do with a little more hay in his outdoor bed. "But as cold as it is now, that's not going to get it," said Rumley.
The cold is giving Dade students a break--all county schools are delayed two hours each morning for the rest of the week (see separate story).
Rumley said this cold snap reminds him of his childhood, when ice had to be broken in ponds so that cattle could drink. "We haven't had to do that in years," he said. But the weather seems to have reverted this week to pre-climate-change norms. (The Planet speculates darkly it's got some sinister connection with the new permissive-left traffic lights.)
The board of directors for the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority (AKA "The Water Board") convened at 8 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 15. It adjourned at 8:04 a.m. (while The Planet was still in the process of removing its coat.) Doug Anderton, manager of the water authority, was out of town and not much was on the agenda. But Anderton has since promised to sit down and catch The Planet up on the utility's doings.
Finally, no Trenton Runaround would be complete without an update on the status of: beer. In a previous Runaround, The Dade Planet reported that Fred's Dollar Store would begin selling beer and wine as soon as the city of Trenton granted its application for a license to do so. Shortly after that, The Planet noticed that the Dollar General on Highway 136 West had quietly begun doing so some time ago. In addition to beer (right), the store sells wine at prices lower than either of the local grocery stores that deal in it.
Dade voters said yes to a referendum allowing liquor by the drink in the unincorporated county in November 2016, and the effect that has had on the county has been--well, zilch. One brave little independently-owned pizza restaurant atop Lookout, about which The Planet reported extensively, took tentative steps toward licensure but was crushed by prohibitive seating minimum requirements, application fees and restrictions set forth by the county commission in its subsequent liquor ordinance. The Trenton city government, which held a mirroring referendum a year later, will shortly begin reconsidering its own LBTD rules.
Meanwhile, though, sites for off-premises malt beverage sales seem to have proliferated in Dade. Patty Murphy of the Alcoholic Beverage Control, or so-called "Beer" Board, said 16 of the 18 convenience stores in the unincorporated county now have licenses. The Planet was unable to contact Trenton City Hall today for corresponding city numbers.
Trenton now has two restaurants where beer and/or wine are served, with one more waiting for license approval, and none that serve hard alcohol. And in the county, as The Planet reported in December, Trenton Golf Club has applied for a variance that would allow it to sell adult beverages for consumption on the golf course. The Beer
Board has not yet dealt with that matter--but when it does, readers may be assured that The Planet will duly report on the outcome.
This has been yet another pithy, up-to-the-minute installment of THE TRENTON RUNAROUND, a periodic feature of your friendly neighborhood Planet.