Back to overview,Home naval-today USA: Executive Officer of VP-4 Reassigned amid Misconduct Allegations Share this article View post tag: Executive View post tag: usa View post tag: Allegations View post tag: Officer View post tag: Amid March 27, 2013 USA: Executive Officer of VP-4 Reassigned amid Misconduct Allegations View post tag: Naval View post tag: Misconduct View post tag: Reassigned View post tag: Navy Commander, Patrol Reconnaissance Wing Two, Capt. Christopher P. Ramsden, has reassigned the Executive Officer of the Hawaii-based Patrol Squadron Four (VP-4) due to an investigation into allegations of misconduct.Cmdr. Jason Stapleton will return to Kaneohe Bay from deployment to Sigonella, Italy.The squadron’s previously identified prospective executive officer, Cmdr. Michael Brett Thompson, will take over as executive officer of VP-4.Executive Officers are the second in command of a Navy aircraft squadron and have a great deal of responsibility for their unit, their assigned Sailors and their mission. The allegations against Cmdr. Stapleton are being investigated and appropriate action will be taken.[mappress]Naval Today Staff, March 27, 2013; Image: vp-4 Authorities View post tag: VP-4 View post tag: News by topic
View post tag: Chinese PLA Navy Back to overview,Home naval-today Australian, Chinese Navy frigates maneuver in South China Sea April 19, 2017 Authorities Australian, Chinese Navy frigates maneuver in South China Sea Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Ballarat took part in exercises with People’s Liberation Army – Navy Type 054A frigate Huangshan after concluding a visit to Zhanjiang port.Conducted in the South China Sea, the activities included surface target firing, a search and rescue exercise, communication exercises and a formation activity with aerial photography.Australia’s Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston, said the frigates’ activities show the valued working relationship between the two navies.“This exercise and other Australian Defence Force activities with China continue to enhance our mutual understanding and build trust between our two nations,” Vice Admiral Johnston said.“We will continue to seek out further opportunities for maritime engagement with the PLA-N in supporting our shared objectives for regional stability.”Ballarat is currently on a South East Asian deployment with further bilateral exercises planned with regional nations and the multilateral exercise Bersama Shield, a Five Power Defence Arrangements activity between Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. View post tag: HMAS Ballarat View post tag: Royal Australian Navy Share this article
Children Firstby: Gail Riecken. CCO Statehouse EditorAs of today SB 1 has passed both Houses of the General Assembly. The bill addresses the critical challenge of meeting the needs of our Hoosier children who are Wards of the Court. Placement in foster homes is one of the main concerns of this bill and the bill categorically puts children first. (See Section 2 of the bill: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/bills/senate/1)Whether it is the administration, the courts or criminal proceedings, “all decisions made by the department [DCS] or the court shall be made in consideration of the best interests of the child or children concerned.” (SB 1)Speakers said over again that foster children are getting lost in the system. One legislator mentioned a young man who in his eighteen years in foster care was moved eighteen times.Legislators heard the policy of moving around children has consequences. They heard factual information that confirms that information from Indiana public schools:64% of Hoosier foster children graduate high school compared to 83 % of all children; and,21% of Hoosier foster children are suspended in public schools vs. 8.9% of all children; and of the number of foster children suspended, 32% are Black.The number of children in foster care has increased over recent years to the highest number in history, parental substance abuse – mostly opioids – the main factor in half of the families.It will always be a moral struggle by well-meaning officials when they have to remove a child from his/her mother and father or change the placement of the child. But, given the new “child first” policy, there is hope the State will do a better job.FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail
We hope that today’s “READERS FORUM” will provoke honest and open dialogue concerning issues that we, as responsible citizens of this community, need to address in a rational and responsible way?HERE’S WHAT’S ON OUR MIND TODAYThe Tribune-Star reported the most notable changes in this proposed gaming law are: “the creation of a new, independent gaming license for Vigo County; requires a public question to be added to either 2019 general or 2020 primary ballot; if the referendum passes, Vigo County officials must form a gambling advisory board in Vigo County; this board would consist of the Terre Haute Mayor, a Vigo County Commissioner, the President of the Vigo County Capital Improvement Board, a Chamber of Commerce appointee and a member appointed by the governor”? …this committee make-up looks like a bunches of “Foxes Watching The Hen House? FacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmail,WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND TODAY?Todays “Readers Poll” question is: Do you feel if the Legislature approves a new Casino to be built in Terre Haute it will hurt Tropicana-Evansville?Please go to our link of our media partner Channel 44 News located in the upper right-hand corner of the City-County Observer so you can get the up-to-date news, weather, and sports. We are pleased to provide obituaries from several area funeral homes at no costs. Over the next several weeks we shall be adding additional obituaries from other local funeral homes. Please scroll down the paper and you shall see a listing of them..If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us at City-County [email protected]: Any comments posted in this column do not represent the views or opinions of the City-County Observer or our advertisers.”READERS FORUM” WHAT’S ON YOUR MIND TODAY?Todays “Readers Poll” question is: Do you feel if the Legislature approves a new Casino to be built in Terre Haute it will hurt Tropicana-Evansville?Please go to our link of our media partner Channel 44 News located in the upper right-hand corner of the City-County Observer so you can get the up-to-date news, weather, and sports. We are pleased to provide obituaries from several area funeral homes at no costs. Over the next several weeks we shall be adding additional obituaries from other local funeral homes. Please scroll down the paper and you shall see a listing of them..If you would like to advertise on the CCO please contact us at City-County [email protected]: Any comments posted in this column do not represent the views or opinions of the City-County Observer or our advertisers.”READERS FORUM”
The blurring between foodservice and traditional retail continues unabated. Forty-nine per cent of consumers who buy food- or drink-to-go now choose a convenience store, the latest IGD research reveals. Most of these purchases are chilled or ambient, rather than hot/warm, but it shows you how far the convenience industry has come in the last decade with range diversification and innovation.In him!’s food-to-go customer tracking programme, we asked 1,900 food-to-go customers, while they were entering or leaving a food-to-go outlet, what their three most important priorities were when choosing where to buy food-to-go items.Their priorities, in order of importance, were speed of service, a range of freshly made products, value for money and product availability.When we look at these priorities closely, it comes as little surprise that convenience outlets are catching up their food-to-go competitors. Convenience stores are local, open longer hours, have invested in queue management systems and have long recognised that speed of service is crucial.More and more convenience retailers are now preparing food on-site. And meal deals are the norm, not the exception, at tens of thousands of convenience stores around the UK, offering customers value for money and generating incremental sales for retailers.We wonder whether the foodservice industry embraces market, channel and customer insights as much as the retail industry does? Programmes run by foodservice operators tend to focus more on operational compliance, rather than customer attitudes and behavioural trends.The foodservice industry needs to understand more about its current customers and work out how to keep them coming back more often, bringing other people with them.
Setlist: Yonder Mountain String Band at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR – 3/18/16Set 1: Mental Breakdown> Sometimes I’ve Won, Nothin’ But A Breeze, Near Me, Blue Collar Blues> Wheel Hoss> Blue Collar Blues, If It Hadn’t Been For Love, Around You> Robots> Around You Set 2: Traffic Jam> I Second That Emotion> Traffic Jam, Love Before You Can’t, Sister Golden Hair, This Lonesome Heart, Years With Rose> Finally Saw The Light, Fingerprint, Summer In The City, Scent Of A Mule> Only A Northern SongEncore: White FreightlinerCheck out a full gallery of photos from our own Rex Thomson below Load remaining images Yonder Mountain String Band brought their never ending road odyssey to Portland, Oregon’s fabled Crystal Ballroom last Friday, March 18th for a homecoming show for their two newest members. Mandolinist Jake Jolliff was all smiles as he worked the crowd before the show, greeting friends and family members with smiles, hugs and promises of wonderful music to come. Illinois transplant and fiery fiddler Allie Kral was happy to be in her new home town, even if it was just for the night. The site of Yonder’s visit, the Crystal Ballroom, has seen every type of act imaginable in its hundred plus years of existence, starting as a dance hall and vaudeville stage before hosting thousands of concerts from some of music’s most legendary acts, from Tina Turner to some of the first shows from the Grateful Dead. Though the past belonged to many, this night belonged to Yonder and they weren’t planning on letting go.Yonder left nothing to chance, utilizing their tried and true blend of crowd favorite originals, inventively reworked covers and instrumental interludes that ranged in tone from transcendental to furious. Bassist Ben Kaufmann handled most of the stage patter as usual, using his “Aw Shucks” demeanor to effortlessly connect with the crowd and repeatedly thank them for their support. Adam Aijala and Dave Johnston, Kaufmann’s fellow original members shared not just the vocal duties on the nights tunes but the wide, satisfied smiles that rarely left their faces as they rocked through the night’s songs. Their deceptively mellow demeanor belied the intricate and passionate fret board work the pair demonstrated all night long. Kinfolk favorites “Traffic Jam” and “Robots” were complimented by inspired takes on America‘s “Sister Golden Hair,” The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City,” Phish’s “Scent Of A Mule,” The Beatles’ “Only A Northern Song,” and a crowd pleasing, boogie down sing-a-long version of Smokey Robinson and The Miracles’ “I Second That Emotion.”The 2.0 version of Yonder has gelled into a remarkably varied ensemble, capable of bringing a sense of newness to their older material and an unpredictability to the direction of their newest songs. Kral’s majestic, droning chords during “Around You,” the closer to the first set of music, were counterpointed with an eastern modality plucked by Johnston that seemed more at home in some distant, mystical land than at a bluegrass show. Jolliff, whose speed and dexterity can transition from a slow simmer to an overflowing boil seemed to relish the opportunity to play for so many familiar faces and he made each solo a memorable event. Fellow newcomer Allie Kral’s emergence as a powerful vocalist in her own right has added yet another dimension to Yonder, and her all out assault on the encore rendition of the bluegrass standard White Freigtliner had the near capacity crowd on their feet and begging for more. Thought the show was sadly over despite their cheers, since the Yonder Mountain String Band will be back to the area for the Northwest String Summit in just a few short months, they won’t have to wait too much longer for another chance to dance up a storm. The night got started by another act destined for the stages of Horning’s Hideout during the String Summit, Washington’s Polecat. This five piece Americana bluegrass fusion wasn’t afraid to get things riled up, though they were also adept at painting trance like sonic landscapes. Their drummer Karl Olson managed to stir the mix gently and unobtrusively, while still being able to ring the thunder, a much needed talent in a band that wants to vary their sound as much as Polecat does. They showcased a number of songs from their forthcoming album, as well as tunes from their previous releases. Loyal supporters were treated to a couple of special guests, with Kat Fountain on harmonica and Paul from MarchFourth! on trumpet to help make a memorable set even more impressive.
The eighth annual ScreenPeace Film Festival will show five critically acclaimed films in the Browning Cinema this weekend from Thursday to Saturday.The screenings are presented by the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center (DPAC). Ted Barron, senior associate director of DPAC, said the festival features a broad selection of films that reflect a range of global interests. He said this year’s films examine social issues and political events in Cambodia, Syria, Nigeria, Vietnam and the former Soviet Union.“The ScreenPeace Film Festival is designed to highlight films which draw attention to peace building efforts both in the United States and around the world,” Barron said.Hal Culbertson, executive director of the Kroc Institute, said the festival provides attendees a unique opportunity to see films otherwise unavailable in national theaters.“ScreenPeace is an attempt to bring a number of new documentary films to campus,” he said. “We try to bring films that we think both students and faculty will be interested in that also address peace and conflict issues from around the world.”This year’s ScreenPeace Festival features five documentaries that utilize a variety of filmmaking styles to convey themes of peace and nonviolence. Faculty members will lead discussions immediately following each film.“Our opening film, ‘The Missing Picture,’ mixes together file footage of the Cambodian genocide, of which there is very little, with clay figurines to capture the filmmakers’ memories,” Culbertson said. “It was up for an Academy Award last year and provides an interesting look at the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.”Both Culbertson and Barron said they are also excited to show “The Man Who Saved the World,” a hybrid documentary that recounts the story of a Soviet official credited with helping avert a third world war.“’The Man Who Saved the World’ is a documentary, but it uses a lot of narrative reenactments of the original event to create an interesting effect,” Culbertson said. “We’re very pleased to be hosting the producers of the film, Mark Romeo and Christian Bruun, who will introduce their piece.”“The Missing Picture” will be shown Thursday night at 7 p.m. The festival continues Friday at 6:30 p.m. with “Return to Homs,” the story of a teenager’s fight to protect the captive inhabitants of the besieged city of Homs, Syria. Then, at 9:30 p.m. on Friday, ScreenPeace will show “The Supreme Price,” a political thriller detailing the story of the family of Nigeria’s 1993 president, M.K.O. Abiola.Saturday’s screenings begin with “The Man Who Saved the World” at 6:30 p.m. followed by “The Last Day in Vietnam,” a film chronicling the final days of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, at 9:30 p.m.The film festival augments students’ classroom experiences by providing additional perspectives on historical and modern events related to peace studies, Culbertson said. Oftentimes, professors with the Kroc Institute integrate the documentaries into their curriculums.“I think the main purpose [of the film festival] is to enhance classroom learning with films that bring realities from around the world to our students and faculty,” Culbertson said. “It’s an enhancement to learning from books. Films have the ability to transcend the classroom and provide a window to the rest of the world.”Although tickets to ScreenPeace are free, Culbertson said students should reserve seats ahead of time to ensure admittance. Last year, for the first time in the festival’s history, every seat for every film was reserved beforehand.“We have received overwhelmingly positive reactions to the festival,” Barron said. “Students are hungry to learn about ways that they can make a difference in the world. The films we present provide an avenue for them to better understand the world at large.”Tickets can be reserved over the phone, at the box office or online at performingarts.nd.edu.Tags: DPAC, Peace Studies, ScreenPeace Film Festival
Winter is notorious for high energy usage. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, December, January and February account for America’s highest energy consumption of any consecutive three-month period. Remember the days of 80 degrees Fahrenheit in November and December? Heating and cooling a home uses more energy and costs more money than any other home system, typically making up about 46 percent – almost half – of the utility bill, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. No matter what kind of heating and cooling system you have, you can save money and increase your comfort. With extreme temperatures come high energy bills, but you’d be surprised how easy it is to decrease energy consumption. Start by following these tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension.You probably change the oil in your car more than once a year; you should also have your heating and cooling system inspected by a qualified heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional. Regular checkups and maintenance help ensure the unit is safe and works effectively and efficiently.Install a programmable thermostat. A programmable thermostat allows you to automatically adjust the temperature in your home. You can set the time to turn on and off the heating or air conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings.In our home, the temperature adjusts before work and school and at night before bedtime.Change is good, so change the air filter every few months. If you are an allergy sufferer, you may want to change the air filter more frequently. A dirty air filter makes the heating system work harder, which uses more energy.The second largest area of energy consumption in homes is lighting, household appliances and electronics. We all remember our parents’ admonishments to “turn off the lights.” While they were right, you can usually save much more by changing standard, incandescent lightbulbs to more efficient models. Compact fluorescent lightbulbs provide more light for less money. Fluorescent bulbs may be more expensive initially, but they are worth the investment.According to the Berkley National Laboratory, most homes have at least 40 household devices drawing power. Just looking in one room in my home led me to believe that they are right, and it enlightened me as to how much electricity my family uses. UGA Extension offers these quick tips to reduce wasted energy:Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use.Unplug electronic devices and chargers when not in use. Most new electronics use electricity even when switched off. Turn computers and printers off at the power strip.Curb idle time in devices such as computers and video game consoles. Simply set your computer to sleep mode or save a game and power down instead of leaving it paused for a prolonged period.Use power strips. Power strips allow you to power devices completely on and off. This will allow you to control the power usage of clusters of devices, so that they’re not consuming electricity when you’re not around.When it comes time to send your old devices to the graveyard, consider replacing them with Energy Star devices. They have a lower standby consumption than average devices and generally use less energy, a savings you should take into account when comparing similar products.Learn more at fcs.uga.edu/extension/uga-greenway or visit the UGA GreenWay News blog.
Saturday, October 7, 2017. Hurricane Nate is wreaking havoc in the South. Forecasters predict the reckless cyclone will make its way to western North Carolina in a few days’ time, just the impetus 57-year-old Cullowhee, N.C., resident Jack Summers needs to go for a bike ride.He sets out late that afternoon, following Tilley Creek Road down Cullowhee Mountain Road. With gravity on his side, he gains quickly on a truck up ahead, which pulls over and waves him by.“They were very courteous,” he says. “I go a lot faster than automobile traffic on the downhills.”Aside from the truck, Summers passes very few cars, a rare treat in the bustling community surrounding Western Carolina University where Summers teaches chemistry. He hangs a right at the intersection onto NC-107 and eases into the bike lane. It’s a short climb out of town, but Summers cranks up it in no time. Just as he begins to crest the top of the hill, he hears it, the most dreaded sound to cyclists everywhere, that of tires squealing on pavement.“Next thing I know, I’m on the ground. I never lost consciousness. I thought about getting up and gave it a half-hearted try, but I felt something in my back, so I just laid there and waited for the ambulance to come to me.”In a matter of minutes, an off-duty EMT and a young medical student are at his side, applying pressure to Summers’ back, which is bleeding profusely. One ambulance ride and a helicopter lift later, Summers was posted up in a bed at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., alive, but badly injured. He had a compressed vertebra, a broken fibula, and a three-inch hole and Morel-Lavallée lesion the size of a cantaloupe on his back.“I’m doing much better,” Summers tells me six weeks later in the comfort of his home. “I’m able to walk around without any kind of support. I feel like I was very lucky. I could have easily been killed at the scene of the accident. The people that stopped and helped me very likely saved me from bleeding to death right there,” and from being another number in a grim statistic.Between 2000 and 2012, the number of cyclists in the U.S. commuting by bike increased by more than 250 percent. Reason would lead us to believe that as more bicycles take to the road, the more motorists become accustomed to their presence and, consequently, the less often collisions occur. But the trend is going in the opposite direction. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 818 cyclists were killed in motor vehicle collisions, an increase of 12.2 percent from 2014. Like Summers, another 45,000 cyclists were injured in automobile-related crashes, which was not significantly different from the previous year’s estimated 50,000 injured.Anecdotally, one need only browse the Internet to see that altercations of all degrees are on the rise between motorists and cyclists. Just a few days before an unlicensed and uninsured 24-year-old driver struck Jack Summers, Claude Donald Watson was caught on camera punching an Asheville-area cyclist in the face at a traffic light. A few months prior in Virginia’s Rockbridge County, a 14-year-old boy died after a 73-year-old woman made a left turn into him while he was riding his bike. And these are only a few that made 2017’s headlines.“We took in three new cases this week,” says Ann Groninger, a personal injury attorney and co-founder of Bike Law, who specializes in representing injured cyclists, including the Asheville rider who received that on-camera punch-in-the-face. “Everyone who rides a bike on the road probably has had some experience like that,” whether it’s getting buzzed, or doored, or run off the road entirely. “Most drivers are probably tolerant [of cyclists], but there is a loud segment of drivers who aren’t and they’re the ones calling their legislators saying, ‘Get these bicycles off the road.’”The problem for cyclists and motorists, whether or not they choose to believe it, is that legislators are listening and people are dying on our roads at a rate that is unacceptable.The Public Health Crisis No One is Talking AboutThere are several factors that are contributing to the clash between cyclists and motorists. The economy is finally starting to recover, which means lower unemployment rates, more discretionary income, and more drivers. The year 2016 saw 3.2 trillion miles on the nation’s roads, which was up 2.8 percent from 2015. Traffic congestion that same year increased on average between 2 and 4 percent.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]Drivers are rightfully frustrated with all of that wasted time spent commuting in heavy traffic, but they’re also more distracted than ever, which is leading to more collisions. According to the NHTSA, distracted driving in 2015 led to 3,477 deaths, an increase of 8.8 percent from 2014. Distracted driving includes anything from texting while driving to using a navigation system or eating. Even responding to a text at a red light can lead to distraction for up to 27 seconds after responding to the message.It was distraction, believes Jack Summers, that led to his hit-and-run incident last fall. “The fact that I heard the tires squealing, that to me suggests that it was not an intentional act,” he says.Summers admits that he could have made himself more visible to the driver by using bike lights, but it was still full daylight at the time, there was perfect visibility, and he was riding in a designated bike lane. By all intents and purposes, Summers should have been safe, and that, says Bike Law founder Peter Wilborn, leads to one very important question.“Why is it still wickedly unsafe to ride a bike? Everything else about safety in the last 20 years has improved. Cars have antilock brakes, we have better helmets. As more and more people ride, you would think the accident rate would go down, because that’s what it’s supposed to do, like death by cigarettes. At some point, with public awareness, smoking-related deaths plummeted. That’s what you would expect for cycling, but it’s not gotten safer. We have a public health crisis that has not been addressed.”For the last 20 years, Wilborn has been at the frontlines of bicycle advocacy as a lawyer, activist, and cyclist. His passion for the cause is rooted in personal tragedy. In 1998, an underage driver ran a red light and collided with Wilborn’s 28-year-old brother Jim, who died instantly. Wilborn sought the legal aid of the most reputable lawyer in town, but was appalled at the lawyer’s initial reaction to the case.“We were all crowded around a conference table beside ourselves with grief, and the first thing he said was, ‘Did Jim have a DUI?’ When we looked at him aghast, he said, ‘Why else would a 28-year-old man be on a bike?’ That moment changed my career.”Wilborn started by representing injured cyclists in his home state of South Carolina. After joining ranks with affiliate lawyer and fellow cyclist Ann Groninger out of Charlotte, N.C., the team expanded into North Carolina and has now grown into Bike Law, a nationwide network of cyclist-lawyers representing injured cyclists in over 25 states and Canada.At times, fighting for the cyclists’ cause feels like an uphill battle. Unfair and archaic legal doctrines like contributory negligence, which prevents recovery of damages for injured persons if they are found to be as little as 1 percent responsible for the collision that injures them, are still in existence in North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Alabama, and, until recently, the District of Columbia.The difficulty of enforcing bicycle safety laws and adequately investigating bicycle-vehicle collisions further compounds the problem and pits motorists against cyclists. Drivers claim that cyclists don’t pay taxes, and therefore should not be allowed on the road, that they run stop signs and traffic lights, hog the lane, and split lanes. Cyclists, meanwhile, berate drivers for passing when it’s not safe, using vehicles as weapons of intimidation, seeding anti-bicycle sentiment among law enforcement and decision makers, and not giving the legally required three feet of space when overtaking cyclists.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]The truth, of course, lies somewhere in between. The vast majority of cyclists are also vehicle or property owners, which means they, too, pay the taxes that upkeep road infrastructure. Drivers, cyclists, and even pedestrians break traffic laws every day, from failing to use a turn signal to jaywalking across the street. While not always courteous, it is legal in 39 out of 50 states for cyclists to ride two abreast. And not all drivers are aggressive towards cyclists—some may simply be anxious.But to Wilborn, all of this is superfluous.“A war between bicycles and cars is frankly absurd,” he says. “It’s sandbox fighting. It’s this phony polarity that’s playing out in the national discourse, where everyone is either left or right. It gives them this self-righteousness of victim blaming that is intellectually dishonest. Why are cyclists being killed? It’s because policy makers have failed to understand transportation planning and plan accordingly. All of them, in every city, every county, every state, were caught completely flatfooted by the boom of people wanting to learn to bike or walk. There is no war. There is a lack of safe infrastructure which makes it likely that criminal drivers are going to kill cyclists at an alarming rate.”The NHTSA’s statistics from 2015 support Wilborn’s argument. Of the 818 cyclists who died that year, 70 percent of those fatal crashes were in urban areas, 61 percent were not at intersections, and only 3 percent were in bike lanes. In 2014, the League of American Bicyclists dug deeper into the NHTSA’s data from 2011 to 2013, and similarly found that most fatalities occurred on high-speed “arterial” urban roads and that 40 percent of all cases were the result of a rear-end collision.What if, Wilborn says, we did away with blaming crashes on one user group or the other and looked at the facts? What if we recognized that as cities grow, so too do their humble outskirts, which turns once quiet country-road-commutes into dangerous real-life rounds of Frogger? What if we elected leaders who prioritized alternative and safe transportation for all road users? What if we saw cyclists not as spandex-wearing elitists parading around on $10,000 bikes, but as working class citizens who use the bicycle not for recreation but for transportation? What if we saw cyclists as a solution to the problem, that if a mere 5 percent of drivers started taking public transportation or cycling to work, rush hour congestion could be reduced by 30 percent?“It’s an easy straw man. People think it’s the cyclist slowing down traffic when cyclists are just the visual representation for a much bigger problem,” says Wilborn. “You have all of these drivers that are frustrated, and your initial reaction is not to blame yourself, or the other people doing the same thing as you. It’s to blame the guy that’s different.”Cities Saving LivesChattanooga Police Department’s Rob Simmons has seen the contention between drivers and cyclists play out firsthand on the streets of downtown Chattanooga during his tenure on the city’s bike patrol. In 2009, the city’s cycling community took a devastating hit when one of its very own was killed after a large truck passed too close, snagging one of the rider’s saddle bags and throwing him from the bike.The cyclist, 51-year-old David Leonard Meek, was a rule follower. He was dressed in reflective and fluorescent clothing, his bike sported flashing lights, and he was riding as far to the right as possible. Yet when Simmons read the crash report filed by the officer on duty, he was perplexed.“The officer who wrote it stated that the vehicle could have seen the cyclist, but it’s not clear that he should have seen the cyclist. What he was saying was that even with the lights and the vest and the cyclist riding where he was supposed to, it wasn’t the fault of the driver. If you’re doing everything that the law requires you to do here in Tennessee, how is it not someone else’s fault? How is there no responsibility put anywhere?”That fatality sparked a newfound sense of responsibility in Simmons that transcended his own passion for cycling. With the support of the police chief, Simmons launched the Chattanooga Safe Biking Initiative in 2015. His initiative had a three-pronged approach: educate motorists, educate cyclists, and enforce the three-foot passing rule by way of the C3FT, a bicycle-mounted device that can detect the exact proximity of passing vehicles.Video Playerhttps://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/videos/3FeetSting.mp4Media error: Format(s) not supported or source(s) not foundDownload File: https://www.blueridgeoutdoors.com/videos/3FeetSting.mp4?_=100:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Additionally, Simmons visited police departments throughout Tennessee and distributed an 11-page training manual on everything from how to properly investigate bicycle-vehicle collisions to listing specific cycling laws. The initiative was a tremendous success. Between 2015 and 2016, Chattanooga-area bicycle-vehicle crashes dropped 26 percent.Coupled with Simmons’ Safe Biking Initiative, Chattanooga is one of the Southeast’s leaders in the Complete Streets movement, which provides safe access for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders. In the past seven years, the city has constructed 30 miles of separated greenways, one mile of protected bike lanes, 38 miles of bike lanes, and 37 routes with “share the road” signage. The Bike Chattanooga Transit System launched its bike share program five years ago, and already has 38 stations and 300 bikes scattered throughout the city.Chattanooga’s Assistant City Traffic Engineer Ben Taylor says the increased bike infrastructure has been met with some skepticism, but that the implementation of bike lanes helps solve other problems such as speeding and parking.[nextpage title=”Read on!”]“Business owners might complain and say that no one really bikes down their way, but those same folks have complained about high traffic speeds and are in an area that has three new restaurants and apartment complexes being built. We’re turning a four-lane to one lane each way with a parking lane and a bike lane, which still serves the driving public by helping calm traffic.”The increased bike lanes are also good for business, as any number of economic impact studies can attest. The Swamp Rabbit Trail in Greenville, S.C, for example, injects close to $7 million annually. Local and non-local visitors to the Virginia Creeper Trail in Damascus and Abingdon, Va., spend more than $2.5 million in the region, supporting a host of restaurants and lodging facilities.A 2013 study conducted by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) estimated that upgrades in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure could even reduce health care costs by as much as $76 million while providing a one-time property value increase of $64 million. The investment seems like a no-brainer, yet many bike infrastructure projects have stalled in recent years. Last October, North Carolina was among a number of states that returned close to $4 million in Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funding designated specifically for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.“If we are serious and we are committed to public safety, then that money should have been spent,” says Asheville On Bikes Executive Director Mike Sule.It’s no secret that the southern metropolis is booming with mountain biking and road cycling tourism. The city was recently selected as the only East Coast destination to host the prestigious three-day Haute Route, an international cycling event expected to generate more than $1 million in the western North Carolina region.“The growth of cycling is way more than the infrastructure development that needs to happen,” says Cane Creek Cycling Components Retail Services Coordinator Bryan Flack. “If we want to be the progressive town that we like to think we are and I know we want to be, let’s see some pedestrian and cycling infrastructure.”But according to Ed Johnson of the NCDOT Division of Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation, sometimes, spending that federal money is harder than it seems. Though NCDOT has awarded over $5 million in grant money for infrastructure since the inception of its Planning Grant Initiative in 2004, there are two caveats to securing that funding: municipalities must submit a publically vetted plan and they must be ready to match 20% of NCDOT’s funding.“That becomes a real hurdle for some of the smaller, rural communities where 20% is a considerable amount of money,” says Johnson. “When it came to the so-called ‘return’ of the TAP funding, many of the municipalities that were to receive that funding were not in a position as of yet to be able to spend it. State funds cannot be used for matching the federal money by statute.”Municipalities can get creative, though, says Johnson, and many North Carolina communities have been able to achieve that 20% match through support from Land and Water Conservation Fund, Clean Water Management Trust Fund, Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, or even private sectors and county health departments. The process can be tedious and time-consuming, and if a municipality has not already established that publically vetted plan, it could run out of time to nab those funds.Though the cost of constructing big projects like greenway systems ($1 million per mile, on average) is often cited as a hindrance to increasing bicycle friendly facilities, Roanoke’s Transportation Division Manager Mark Jamison begs to differ. Though Roanoke is well-loved for its extensive greenways, Jamison says the city has spent the past 15 years knocking out what he calls the low-hanging fruit of the transportation world: repaving and repainting.“It’s not something we had to spend a lot of money doing because we were just reallocating existing space instead of creating new space,” says Jamison. “The only thing we’re adding is a paint stripe, and you’re talking about pennies a foot. You’re spending hundreds of dollars, not thousands of dollars, so I don’t track [the expense] because it’s not expensive.”Roanoke is now charged with tackling bigger projects that will require more funds, but Jamison says that cities everywhere should be repaving, repainting, and reallocating space to accommodate all road users, not just motorists, starting now, even if it means making a bike lane that continues for only a mile before dead-ending.“We have to look more to what we want our cities to be like in the future,” he says. “If you don’t add something when you can, you might not ever add it, and even if a bike lane doesn’t connect to something today, years from now, there might be an opportunity to connect it. Be confident in that.”Back in Cullowhee, N.C., Jack Summers is a staunch supporter of bike lanes, and attests the presence of the bike lane he was riding in to surviving the crash. Having ridden on Jackson County’s roads for almost 15 years without incident, Summers says he almost feels safer on winding country roads than the fast-and-straight four-lane highways.“It’s counterintuitive, I know, but that’s how it is. People have to pay attention then.”He’s not bitter or angry toward the young driver who hit him, and who is presently sitting in jail awaiting charges ranging from a felony hit-and-run to making a false statement to a cop and driving without a license.“It doesn’t help anything to be angry,” says Summers. “You’re playing the odds anytime you get in a vehicle, whether it’s a car or a bike or a motorcycle or even walking down the sidewalk.”The unfortunate reality, says Rob Simmons of the Chattanooga Police Department, is that the odds are rarely in favor of the cyclist.“It doesn’t matter if it’s the cyclist’s fault or the motorist’s fault. Whenever a vehicle and a cyclist collide, there is only one loser. The cyclist always loses. If we can show a little humanity, and realize that cyclists are humans too with mothers, fathers, children, spouses, it could go a long way toward preserving life in the end.”
Categories: Letters to the Editor, OpinionAgent Orange fitting nickname for TrumpWhen someone continually attempts to belittle and degrade scores of people via chronic name calling solely on the basis that they’re not in line with his particular way of thinking, perhaps tagging that individual with an appropriate name of his own is in order.Agent Orange is an extremely toxic herbicide that was spread from airplanes to defoliate the jungles of Vietnam during a war that 58,000 U.S. service members died in. (Some people may have avoided that war because of bone spurs.)Agent Orange’s long-lasting toxic effects to plants, animals and humans still have negative health, ecological and sociopolitical consequences some 50-plus years after its use.An agent is a person that has the authorization and power to act on another’s behalf. Obviously, the president of the United States fits that definition and can, with no argument, be called an agent. Orange is a color that most assuredly can be associated with Trump, verifiable by looking at, for the most part, any picture of him.Considering the president’s constant attempts, some of which are successful, to undermine health care, the environment and productive relations with America’s allies, as well as the United States Constitution, one can surmise the result of this toxic behavior will have long-lasting negative health, ecological and sociopolitical effects.Therefore, one would conclude that no issue be taken when following the lead of our name-calling president, by most appropriately calling him the name “Agent Orange.”Lou Restifo Sr.Burnt HillsStop referring to our children as kidsWhy are we still calling our children “kids,” when it says in the Word of God (Bible) that a kid is a sacrificial animal. Are we sacrificing our own children by using the term kid when we are angry at them for something? Or are we just not thinking about what we are truly saying? I was greatly appreciated to learn by a true man of God when he let the people know what harm we might be doing by calling our children kids. I thank God that I repented of such foolishness, and I now refer to all children as children, not the k-word.Bonita CadeSchenectadyExpand number of sites for early votingThis year, New Yorkers have nine additional days to vote, including two weekends before Election Day, but no one seems to know about it.No more do you have to wait till after work, then go stand in line at 8 p.m. No more do you have to choose between picking kids up at childcare and stopping off to vote. This will make a huge difference, especially for working parents.Early voting will take place in every county in New York state from Saturday, Oct. 26, through Sunday, Nov. 3. Voting during early voting is the same as voting on Election Day.You will check in to vote, receive your ballot and vote as any other election. Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, and people will vote at their regular polling places on Election Day.But in Montgomery County, there is only one place to vote early, and that’s at the Board of Elections office in Fonda. Beginning Oct. 26, the Montgomery County Early Voting Poll site will be located at the Montgomery County Old Courthouse, located at 9 Park Street in Fonda. This does not make it easy to vote early for people who don’t have a car. Surely, an early polling place in the city of Amsterdam would be useful.We need multiple polling places across the county, especially in population centers, so that the maximum number of people can exercise their right to vote.Anita SanchezAmsterdamMore from The Daily Gazette:Foss: Should main downtown branch of the Schenectady County Public Library reopen?EDITORIAL: Find a way to get family members into nursing homesEDITORIAL: Urgent: Today is the last day to complete the censusGov. Andrew Cuomo’s press conference for Sunday, Oct. 18EDITORIAL: Thruway tax unfair to working motorists