Without a doubt, the No. 1 most popular complaint people will have about the town they live in is how terrible the drivers are.
According to my parents, the drivers in Brewton, Alabama are the worst in the nation. (I agree with them.)
According to my wife’s parents, the drivers in Memphis are the worst in the nation.
Delta residents will say the drivers here are the worst in the nation.
What does that tell us? Drivers are bad everywhere. (Though I believe, because of the state of the roads, drivers here are pretty darn good. They have to be.)
Most bad driving is caused by inability and lack of attention. People are just checked out when they are behind the wheel. Cars have become so safe they have made us unaware.
But, in some cases, poor driving is brought on by a lack of understanding of the rules of the road.
This was truly evident on Saturday and Sunday as the downtown area of Greenville was still without power and thus, the traffic lights were inoperative.
I know I’ve written this before, but when a traffic light is inoperative, it is to be treated like a four-way stop.
That’s the rule. I know it was on my driver’s test 28 years ago. Perhaps that’s one of the problems as the last time I was tested on my driving ability was that many years ago.
Yet in Greenville, about half the drivers assume whatever road they are on has the right of way and will continue straight on through an inoperable traffic light.
I honked at a driver who cruised without even slowing down through the inoperable light at Broadway and Alexander while a Greenville Police cruiser sat in the empty lot across the street from Double Quick.
I thought, great, this police officer is going to hit his lights, pull over this car and, at the very least, explain to the driver this important rule of the road.
But, the lights didn’t come on and the police officer didn’t move.
I’m betting he doesn’t know the rule either.
In the past, city workers have taken it upon themselves to place stop signs at only two sides of the intersections when a traffic light is inoperable. This is even worse. Either there should be a stop sign at all four corners or none at all. It’s supposed to be a four-way stop no matter.
This weekend though, I only saw stop signs placed at one intersection and for only a short period of time. Perhaps the city workers finally learned the rule or they were too busy with cleanup.
And busy the city has been.
Crews from a few local businesses with large earth-moving equipment and city workers jumped immediately on the problem of storm detritus in the major intersections on Washington Avenue and Main Street. Less attention seemed to be paid to the damaged businesses on Walnut Street.
While the tornado was the big news of the week, recent action by the Washington County Board of Supervisors has sparked a fire under many people.
A move by newly-elected supervisor Mala Brooks to move away from a locally owned engineering firm to a business based in Jackson for the position of county engineer has come under fire.
In fact, for the first time in recent memory, the board has set aside time for local comment on the issue at its next meeting.
There are more issues at play here than the performance of the county engineer.
Had the motion to make a change in the position come from a veteran of the board who had dealt with the engineer in an official capacity, one might see a need to discuss the change.
But, the motion came from a rookie supervisor on the first day of her term. I’ve also been told, representatives from the new engineering firm, IMS Engineers, were already in the building on the day of the vote.
It seems as though this move may have been arranged prior to the day of the meeting. If that’s the case, the necessity of the public to keep an eye on this board has never been more evident.
We’ve already made our opinion known on this very page and it bears repeating here: the board of supervisors should not be casting aside 30 years of history with a local business to employ an out-of-town firm. The right move is to bring Hooker engineering back on as the county engineer.
That is, of course, if the firm wants to be retained. I know I might have a problem working with someone who so easily casts aside what has been a strong relationship for a long time.
Angel alert goes out to the men and women who worked to restore order and power to the streets of Greenville last weekend after the tornado. Happy Birthday to Betty Lynn Cameron, Bill Andrews, Cyndi Collins and Ebony Williams.
Jon Alverson is proud to be the publisher and editor of the Delta Democrat-Times. Write to him at email@example.com or call him at 335-1155.