Like being doused with cold water…

Today, I had an opportunity to reflect upon three events that transpired within the last few weeks. Collectively, they have served to remind me just how much being a County Commissioner matters.

A few weeks ago, our community lost a long-time resident in an accident at the intersection of Highway 84 and Bay Springs Road. That intersection is something that has been atop my mind since before I even took office. When I was campaigning for this seat, I kept hearing complaints about the traffic and hazards of that intersection. It is also one that I travel at least twice per day, having almost been involved in an accident myself twice within the past year. When I was campaigning for office, I would often say that I hoped to be able to do something about the problem “before someone lost their life.”

Before a few weeks ago, they were just words. They were words I meant, don’t get me wrong, but all the same they were still just words. A few weeks ago, someone did lose their life. Those words suddenly took on much more meaning than before. Like being doused with cold water, I realized that this job as a Commissioner is more than just about the ideas I brought into this office. It affects people, their property, and even their lives. The decisions we make and the things we work towards have consequences.

Last week, I spoke with a relative of the gentleman that lost his life. While the person I spoke with was very pleasant, the call was the most difficult one, by far, that I have taken as a Commissioner. They had just lost a loved one – in an accident – at an intersection that I had tried to make safer – “before someone lost their life.”

Another issue which needs attention is the volunteer fire and rescue system that we use to provide emergency services to the rural parts of the County. Our current system grows increasingly underfunded each year. And while the system has a good number of volunteers, those volunteers are finding it increasingly difficult to get away from work during the day to make emergency runs.

I have always had a great appreciation for what our volunteers do. In my aging grandfather’s final years, the volunteers in Wicksburg took him to the hospital several times. Within the past 10 days, they have had to rush two more family members to the ER. To every volunteer fire and rescue person, I say “thank you.”

If you live within the city limits of Dothan and you think the volunteer system doesn’t affect you, you couldn’t be more mistaken. If you drive towards Enterprise and get into an accident in Bay Springs or Wicksburg, suddenly the volunteer fire and rescue system will be very important to you.

At the end of the day, we must have a viable volunteer system or we must have a professional system. Personally, I’m a fan of less taxes and less fees, so I’m going to do everything I can to sustain and strengthen the volunteer system. And I’m also going to keep on ALDOT about that intersection!

Update on 84W and Bay Springs Road Intersection

When I was campaigning for office, one problem I kept hearing about was the intersection of Highway 84 West and Bay Springs Road. Since I go through this intersection almost every day, I am very familiar with how dangerous it can be, especially during the morning and afternoon rush.

Checking traffic as you cross from North to South on Bay Springs Road, a utility pole, complete with strategically placed box, stares you in the face.

Checking traffic as you cross from North to South on Bay Springs Road, a utility pole, complete with strategically placed box, stares you in the face.

Prior to taking office, I requested that Houston County ask ALDOT to look at installing a traffic light at this location. A study was conducted, the results of which can be download here, and it was deemed to not have sufficient enough cross traffic to justify a traffic signal.

Then just a few weeks ago, our community lost a valued and long-time resident when he was involved in an accident at 84W and Bay Springs Road. I never spoke to the gentleman, although I would often see him picking up trash beside the road near his home. His wife, whom I spoke with at length during the campaign, was also in the car when the accident occurred. From what I have been told, her injuries were substantial.

As a result of that accident, I have had several nearby residents ask again about the intersection. I want everyone to know that I have been in communication with the person at ALDOT who ran the traffic study and he has informed me that they are looking again at the intersection. They will study the number of accidents that have occurred and look into what improvements can be made to reduce them in the future. This does not mean a traffic light will be installed and may only mean that the speed limit will be reduced. But I will support any change that will make our community a little bit safer.

I will post an update once I have more information.