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Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Top-Ten Solvable Problems In Scioto County

This entry is a Top-Ten List of things I would like to see fixed in the area. It represents my opinion, and in no way does it stand for anything but personal observations and thoughts. When I write an editorial blog, I understand some people naturally get tired of my finding fault. Mama told me to find something I could do well and stick with it, so I think I find fault because I'm decent at pointing it out. Granted, I'm not so good with solutions to these problems. Maybe you are. I hope you can help with a few I gripe about today.

It is not my intention to "piss people off." Wait ... well ... scratch that. Anyone who knows me well understands that I do aggravate people and sprinkle too much urine. Maybe, like Jerry Jeff Walker, my reputation would be better if I learned not to "piss against the wind and buzz blow old friends."

At any rate, this is me. I'm too old to change, and I must be getting a little worse about complaining. You know, when I was a kid, I used to talk with my friends about the nasty nature of "so and so, the angry old cuss." I have learned I must be careful whom I judge because I seem to be morphing into the very thing I once detested.

Now that I know you won't take this entry with much seriousness, just let the old fart bellow about the top-ten simple "bugs" he experiences. I'm sure I'll get over all of them, and my criticisms will change in another day or two anyway. So, never mind. Just read and discuss among yourselves. You can read my latest gripe tomorrow.

By the way, the list is in random order. Gee, this little grouping works just like my wandering mind: fragmented and constantly changing.

The Top-Ten Solvable Problems In Scioto

1. The "Who Knows Their Holidays?" Portsmouth Trash Pickup Schedule

The rotating trash collection schedule for the City of Portsmouth is one of the great mysteries of 21st century existence in P Town. For most of my many years of residency, trash collection after a holiday was accomplished with overtime and not much confusion. But now, citizens have no idea of what constitutes a recognized "trash collection holiday" and the schedule changes due to days off and inclement weather. Fearing missing a different trash collection day, people just wheel their trash vehicles to the street and let them sit curbside all week.

If letters were given to city zones of collection and a map disclosing the location of "Zone A," "Zone B," etc., couldn't the "Pick Up Day" schedule be regularly updated and posted on a new Facebook group page for all to access easily?

As a side note -- wasn't overtime included in the budget for trash collection before the "rotating holiday schedule"? The old way worked just fine. My question is: "Why wasn't overtime money also included to cover trash collection now?" Maybe, just maybe... it was. Where is the "service" as in the title "Service Department"?

The situation reminds me of a cashier not saying the obligatory "thank you" as I hand him or her payment for my purchase. Where is the needed consideration for hard-earned money spent? "You are welcome."

2. The Traffic Light at the Foot of the Scioto Trail North Overpass

With the new Kings Daughters Medical Complex at 2001 Scioto Trail, a need exists for a light with a left turn signal to allow drivers entry to the complex. This light could alleviate traffic backup on the Trail near Kinney's Lane and potentially decrease collisions. Traffic patterns are especially heavy during rush hours on weekdays. 

Can the city just the timing of the traffic light and install a turn signal allowing easy entry to Kings Daughters? I'm sure traffic studies and other unnecessary red tape would be required, but, honestly, what a simple solution could be quickly taken to save traffic jams, auto crashes, and loss of life.

3. The 25 MPH Speed Traps on Coles Boulevard

The city received a grant to crack down on speeders. Right now the traffic court is crowded with those evil felons like me who do a few miles over the limit, which is just about the speed of walking. In case you don't know, the speed limit on city streets is 25 MPH. I was caught going 38 MPH in a speed trap set up at the armory on Coles. After my ticket, I have been attempting to drive 25 MPH on Portsmouth streets. While traveling the speed limit, people get on my bumper, give me an array of finger signals, and some even attempt to pull me over and punch me because of my turtle-like, safety habits. I ask each of you to "TRY" to drive under 25 MPH on Coles as an experiment in patience.

Don't speed on city streets until the grant money runs out. And, if you wind up behind me in traffic, please remember the necessity of doing 20 MPH because of the crackdown on taxpaying citizens. Don't wind up in traffic court -- it's a time-consuming, costly experience that starts late and requires you to stand in the hallway with scores of voracious speeders and other ne'er-do-wells like me.

4. First of the Month Employee Backups at Local Bank Drive-Thru's

Anyone living in our welfare-driven community knows the first of the month is government check time. This equates to most of the populace going to the bank. Our local banks seem to be dropping service after service to save money, which, by the way, is our money, so I don't get the cutoff of useful consumer services. Anyway, the crowds at the drive-thru's the first of every month are tumultuous for a few days, but they soon recede after government, state, and business checks are cashed and bills are paid.

Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems as if no extra tellers are employed and no extra lanes are opened for the first-of-each-month rush. Would it be too much to ask for a few more workers to assist customers during these peak periods? For example, Desco was so jammed for several days at the first of the month recently that I waited for over twenty minutes and still wasn't near the head of the line. Of course, by that time, I was pinned in by other motorists in my lane and had to wait forever to do business.

One more note -- lunch hour is an ideal time for many bank customers to use drive-thru's. Why would banks schedule teller breaks and employee lunch times when they are needed most by customers who expect to use their time to go "convenience banking," then return, on time, to their work settings?

5. Eyesore Property and the Owner Initiative

The people who own property that has long been in disrepair and represents a danger and an eyesore should be required to either tear down or to remodel the structures on the property. Let's begin with the now infamous Martings Building on Chillicothe Street and the hideous remains of the old Club Franklin near Rosemount Point. And these two structures are just the tip of the iceberg of nasty constructions in the area.

Give the owners a reasonable time to begin demolition or to start remodeling. If they refuse to improve, no matter how much total slum property they own, then fine them heavily each month they remain inactive. By the way, I would much rather see revenue generated this way than through speed traps. I guess the city would have to fine itself in the case of the Martings ruins.

Nothing is more depressing in a depressive area than slums, dirt, and unkempt real estate. Hazardous and unhealthy areas in Ohio's most unhealthy county need special attention. In many cases, restoration could be accomplished with a minimum outlay of cash. In other, more severe cases, structures should be torn down, not left to ruin in public sight.

6. The Ridiculous Stop Sign on Dorman Drive

OK, let's say you drive over the hill on Dorman to get back home in Portsmouth from New Boston or from Wheelersburg. You are tooling along in your car on a clear straightaway and near Circle Drive. Suddenly, a stop sign appears. You slam on the brakes to wait for traffic that seldom, if ever, funnels in from your right. You wonder why the stop sign has been installed on Dorman, and you realize it has been there for decades. As kids say, you do an instant "WTF?"

I know... how dare I mention this. What a small inconvenience for idiot thinkers like me. But, what a simple change could be made to accommodate the usual, normal driving habits of residents. Take out the stop sign and install it on the other road? The present stop sign is really a quirky reality that reminds me of something done because someone at some time had enough influence to get it erected. If the presence of this sign is "sacred ground" and has a logical reason for its existence, I would like to know. I apologize in advance to anyone who knows about a horrible accident caused some time in the past by the exclusion of the Dorman stop sign. I'm just baffled at its existence.

7. The Lack of a Branch Rickey Museum and Permanent Display

Branch Rickey and the entire biography of the man represent unique, fascinating, positive influence for Major League Baseball, race relations, and the diverse culture of America. Mr. Rickey is renowned as one American who changed the face of the country. At his funeral, Jackie Robinson contended that only Abraham Lincoln had done more for African Americans than had Rickey.

Branch Rickey's boyhood home was Scioto County. He married local Jane Moulton, and many of his relation still live here. Branch is buried in Rush Township Memorial Park. His legacy from his roots in Stockdale to his schooling in Lucasville to his college days at Ohio Wesleyan is remarkable.

Mr. Rickey has been portrayed by Minor Watson in the 1950 movie The Jackie Robinson Story. In the 1996 HBO movie Soul of the Game, he is played by Edward Herrmann. And in the acclaimed 2013 film 42, Harrison Ford plays Rickey. A great side note -- Rickey's great-granddaughter, actress Kelly Jakle, also appears in 42

Somewhere appropriate in this county, a Branch Rickey Museum Center must be built and a concerted effort must be made to acquire, to collect, to purchase, to house, and to display the artifacts and biography of the man. He is simply one of the most gifted baseball celebrities to have walked the earth. With great intellect and unparalleled leadership, Branch Rickey is recognizes as a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, an inductee into the St. Louis Walk of Fame, and a member of the College Baseball Hall of Fame. What an accomplished man!

I implore those with resources and influence to consider making Scioto County home to Major League Baseball as we know it today. Perhaps all the great players from the area plus the county and state governments, and local benefactors could tackle a mammoth project that would produce lasting and popular appeal. Tourists would love a museum dedicated to the face of baseball. It should be built here ... in the backyard of Mr. Rickey. He is the force and the innovator that saved the game.

I remember my high school English teacher, Mrs. Peebles, as a close relative to Rickey. Stories here about the man abound. Wouldn't it be wonderful to work with all involved to house a collection of Branch Rickey materials which would outshine any such collection in America?

8. The "I Can't Drive 55" Speed Limit Between Clay Overpass and Lucasville Village Limits

I guess I'm a little repetitive as I gripe about speed limits. But, recently, the speed limit on most or Route 23 to Columbus has been raised to 60 MPH. I have been going to Dublin weekly to see my mother, and I feel so good about the change. Still, the 55 MPH limit is imposed from Clay Overpass to Lucasville. I wonder why it hasn't been raised as most other stretches of Rt. 23 are 60 MPH.

And, I'm sure it has something to do with limited access, traffic patterns, and safety, but still...
remember what the race organizer in the film Cannonball Run said: "Certain skeptics note that as soon as we begin, thirty thousand of the nation's most alert highway patrolmen will be out there waiting to stop you guys, but let's stay positive. Think of the fact that not one state of the fifty has the death penalty for speeding...although I'm not so sure about Ohio."

9. Enforcement of Fast Food Drive-Thru "Get My Condiments and Order Right the First Time"

I know, eating fast food is something I should do much less of; however, I do frequent local fast food outlets, almost always employing the drive-thru windows. Granted, many of the communications systems sound like the tin-can-string assemblies we played with as kids -- a marvel of inefficiency in this day of super technology -- but, with the order coming up on the screen and the reassuring voice of the employee, I assume my order will be filled correctly. Uh, huh... everyone by now knows the old cliche' about why one should never "assume" -- it makes an "ass" - out of "u" and "me."

Just a few notes to those filling the orders:

(a.) A cheeseburger actually has cheese on it, and the fries go in the container, not all over the bag.
(b.) Please, don't ask me stupid questions like an automaton. No, I don't want the combo unless I say "Give me that sandwich in the combo meal."
(c.) The condiments should be nicely and attractively arranged on the sandwich, not dumped on one side like a glob of self-sliding slime. Also, don't cough, touch, or even breathe on my food. I wouldn't do that to yours. Always include napkins, and always check the order against the food you place in the bag.
(d.) Never ask me to pull away from the window to accommodate the next customer before I get my fast food order because that usually means I sit in the car waiting for a long time while my food has entered the "red light" district of Warmup and stays there until you and your co-worker decide to stop blabbing about how much fun you had on your date last night. Don't come out to my car with lukewarm vittles.
(e.) And, lastly, always... always, say "thank you" when I fork over my money. I don't give a rat's ass about your low wages and insufficient hours. I've been there. I have worked for poor wages in less-than-wonderful conditions in the past, and I don't want to suffer your pain. Suck it up. Save your money; go to college; and advance your career like the rest of us did. Learn to say "thank you" to every customer because you are getting paid to be a good representative of the company.

10. Monthly Updated Missing Persons and Criminal Activity Billboard

I still grieve for the loss of Megan Lancaster. Since her disappearance, I have learned of many other missing persons in our area and crimes that have yet to be solved. The lack of information and lack of new leads frustrate all involved. Part of the hope of finding missing people lies in the constant reminders that we should "look and listen" for them. Enforcement has an obligation to inform the public of developments until a case is solved. Relatives and friends deserve this service.

In addition to those missing, unsolved crimes mount. People wonder if new clues and possible evidence might help solve these mysteries. The pain of an unsolved crime never leaves those who care. We, as a community, could help solve these terrible crimes if we had an open, clear line of communication with those who investigate them. Tips and calls often result from billboards with photos and information about such activity.

Indifference by a community only lends to fear and distrust. Although many have justifiable reasons for their inaction, positive change can only result when the populace rises to identify wrongdoers. In the case of Megan, I have heard scores of stories, possible clues, and false leads.

To give up because we want better investigation is inexcusable. First, we must force our hands to action; then, we must force the hands of others to find answers despite the low status or the marginal influence of the missing individual. Many of you know the "way" certain operations get stalled here. I ask those in the highest places to become instrumental in revealing the truth about injustice in Scioto County. As you on the peaks of power ignore it, you also feed it, and the "bad wolf" grows unabated as it feeds its lustful hunger. Sorry for the cloaked symbolism. I just believe our system needs some improvement from within and some officials who will report wrongdoings.

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