Wonder why the U.S. government is $14 trillion dollars in debt? Look no further than a road project in Dougherty County.
Okay, it’s not really responsible for much, if any, of the debt, but it is an example of how the government often wastes money.
Crews are wrapping up a project to improve safety on U.S. Highway 19. They’re upgrading turn lanes at more than a dozen intersections from the Liberty Expressway to the Mitchell County line to prevent crashes. Most people agree that’s a worthwhile and needed project.
Here’s where it goes off the rails. The intersections at Holly Drive and in front of Procter and Gamble have traffic lights, so the federal government is requiring workers to install sidewalks, pedestrian signals, and crosswalks there. Never mind that you’re more likely to be struck by lightning or eaten by a shark than see a pedestrian at either those intersections.
One of the sidewalks even drops right off into the woods. Clearly nobody is going to be walking there. The federal government says projects like this have to meet certain safety standards for pedestrians and the disabled. That’s a noble goal, but there should be some way to exempt projects in areas where there is little or no pedestrian traffic.
It wouldn’t pay down the debt, but it would save the federal government a little bit of money, and it would show some common sense. But then that’s not exactly the government’s strong suit.
Cigarette dangers duly spotlighted
We hope you have seen the announcement about new graphic warnings that will appear on every pack of cigarettes beginning in 2012.
The FDA hopes these in-your-face larger warnings, will have two outcomes: that it will keep more children from ever trying smoking, and that kids will give their parents an even harder time about their smoking.
This is the first change in the warning labels in over 25 years and is a great idea because of the addictive nature of the drug nicotine in cigarettes. Some we spoke to, addicted to smoking, hope the ads will encourage others to never start.
It would be odd, if not so sad, you see people holding cigarettes outside their car windows, because they are absolutely convinced of the damage cigarettes will cause to the interior of their car, but not the same fear, about the damage are causing to their bodies.
These new graphic warnings may remind you of the state’s campaign to educate and discourage kids from ever using meth – even once. This campaign has already been shown to be very effective in Georgia, so we hope the cigarette warnings will be just as effective.
Kids need activities
Police warned us recently to expect an increase in crime this summer. It happens most every year when kids are out of school. Many of them have too much time on their hands and too little supervision.
While parents can’t be held responsible for everything their children do, it is their responsibility to do everything they can to keep their kids out of trouble, and there’s plenty of help out there for them.
There are all sorts of programs that not only keep young people busy, but teach them positive life skills. And many of them are free. The National Youth Sports Program has been a summertime tradition in Albany for decades.
The Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office sponsors the CHAMPS camp. Churches all over the region put on Vacation Bible Schools. And the Boys and Girls Club has molded lives for generations.
Parents need to take advantage of these and other resources. It’s good for their kids and the whole community.
Regents take aim at college costs
Some of south Georgia’s two-year colleges have recently announced new programs that will allow students to earn four-year degrees at their schools.
Darton College will offer a four-year degree in nursing. Nursing students who previously had to look elsewhere to finish their degrees now have the advantage of staying here.
Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College recently rolled out a new four-year degree in biology, their first bachelor’s degree in the College of Math and Sciences. The Board of Regents also approved a four-year nursing program for South Georgia College in Douglas.
We think this trend is a step in the right direction for Georgia’s colleges, and will be a big help to students who are trying to achieve a four-year degree — without breaking the bank.
It is well known that the cost of higher education continues to rise, and at a pace that far out-paces inflation. This is happening at a time when the restrictions for the HOPE grant are becoming tighter than ever before.
Even with grants and educational loans, the cost of high education may soon be beyond the average student, many of who come out of school into a very tight job market, with many thousands of dollars in student loan debt. We say that anything the Board of Regents can do to help these students minimize their school costs, including being able to remain close to home to earn a bachelor’s degree, is the right thing to do.
We also call on the Regents to take a close look at the skyrocketing cost of college, and take action to rein it in.
Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.