Letters to the Editor
Trooper put cyclist at risk
I must say that I have always had the utmost respect for our law enforcement individuals within Hartselle, Decatur and Morgan County; they have been my neighbors and friends. I also must say that I am an avid bicyclist cycling for over 20 years and was saddened by the tragic accident that took the life of a Huntsville cyclist in Tennessee a few weeks ago. T
hen this week I had the most amazing event happen to me while I was cycling in the county. Well into my daily 20 mile ride, I heard over a PA system behind me, “Bicyclist, you are on the wrong side of the road.” I thought to myself, “What is this?” and then I heard it again repeatedly.
I could see a vehicle behind me in my helmet mirror and it was obviously unwilling to pass me on my bicycle. The vehicle continued in its taunt until I began to slow my 20 mile per hour pace and begin to pull to the side of the road. I was assuming a confrontation with an individual or individuals who frequently lack respect for the rights of bicyclists on our public roads. These are the individuals who find some amusement in yelling out the window “Get off the road!” or throwing something out their window at the passing cyclist.
As I checked my mirror again, I was surprised to see the now flashing blue lights behind me. The individual was an Alabama State Trooper! An office which I have always held in high regard, was now telling me to ride on the left side of the road toward oncoming traffic! The vehicle pulled alongside and the officer yelled out the window for me to change sides of the road. I yelled back as the vehicle crawled pass, “Sir, I thought I was to ride with traffic!” The reply was “No, you are to ride on the other side of the road!” The officer then proceeded off.
In the spirit of the command that I was just given by an Alabama State Trooper, I change sides of the road and proceeded to ride against traffic at my pace of 20 mph. I truly believed this was wrong, I knew this was wrong and so did the oncoming automobiles! I was approaching them at 20 mph and they were approaching me at 40 mph, a nice closure rate of 60 mph.
After the second driver swerved significantly into the opposing lane, I crossed back over to the right side of the road riding with the flow of traffic. This was a much more comfortable position and the one I thought was mandated by the Law of Alabama.
Once I had finished my ride, I sought out the law, it’s easy enough to find. “Code of Alabama 1975. Title 32. Motor Vehicles and Traffic. Chapter 5A. Article 13.” It’s probably not prudent to quote law to a police officer, but I believe in our system. The law states “Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable, exercising due care when passing a standing vehicle of one proceeding in the same direction.” Enough said, I suppose.
I could say that I could identify this Alabama State Trooper, after all the identification numbers on the trunk of the vehicle are intended to be seen from the air and were extremely obvious but this is unnecessary. Again, I have the greatest respect for our law enforcement officers, not just the Decatur City or Hartselle City Officers that are my neighbors. I truly believe they strive to protect me every day. This was just a surprise in light of the tragic accident and death of a fellow rider within the last few weeks.
City should help business
The recent Council action allowing a tattoo parlor downtown highlighted a growing problem in Hartselle. The recent economic downturn has closed many businesses in our town and others across the nation. We need to be proactive in order to promote the entrepreneurial spirit that built this Country and kept it great.
Our city needs to lead the way and do the following:
1) With the presentation of a minimum one-year lease agreement in a commercial zone, allow a new business to obtain a valid business license and suspend the fee for up to six months.
2) Grant a 30-day, municipal sales tax-free term for all new businesses. Obviously, the state and county taxes would have to be collected, but waive the city taxes for that time.
These two actions would give a new businesses time to get started, make some sales and create opportunity in our town. Most new start-ups would have to pay for their inventory up front, or at best, net 30 days. At least this approach would give them relief at a critical time during an incubation period. The city would not lose tax revenue since a vacant building creates zero revenue now. What have we to lose? We as a community can say we did all we could to create opportunity, pass or fail.
This nation’s economic recovery begins on Main Street USA and that does not get any more intimate to us than Main Street, Hartselle, Alabama.
Lee Y. Greene Jr.
Seniors offer thanks
We would like to thank everyone who came to the dedication and open house of the new Hartselle Senior Center June 6.
Special thanks to Sen. Arthur Orr, Mayor Dwight Tankersley and County Commissioners Don Stisher and Ken Livingston who worked so hard to get us the grant for the building.
We would like to thank the following businesses and individuals for their donations: Premier Furniture, Wal-Mart, Jim Norman Antique Auctions, Mr. and Mrs. Don Carpenter, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Miller, Kathy Goodwin of Hartselle Medical Center, Kroger, Peck Funeral Home, Slate Gallery and Framing, Smith’s Florist, Hometown Grocery, Thelma Landis, Lenora Yarbrough, Mae Harvel, Judy Williams, Brenda Livingston, Eula Halbrooks, Mr. and Mrs. Truman Bridges, Mary Nix, Shirley Downey, Donna Akers, Sally Lowry, Gene Facine and Frank Miller and his crew who took care of the last-minute details.
I noticed the story regarding the tattoo shop in Downtown Hartselle, and the fact that the owner is fighting for the right to open her shop in its current location. I am wondering if the Enquirer is planning on providing any information to the local residents about why she would be denied this right. I understand that some folks think that a tattoo shop would be a negative addition to the downtown, but jeez… how long has the pool hall been there? The same ordinance that she is fighting also restricted tanning salons and photography studios, and I think that we currently have at least one of each.
Really, how many more antique stores can we handle? (Certainly not enough to fill the 20 empty buildings in the Central Business District) In my opinion, the city should crack down on a couple of the thrift (junk) stores! They are eyesores.
I have lived in Hartselle almost all my life. I was born in Pineview hospital (for those who even remember it), and I suppose that the thing I would like to see in Hartselle is some of the pretentiousness of its residences to take a back seat to the possibility of growth and development in our town. It might be a nice idea to think that we can remain an idyllic small town with quaint little shops and cute little bistros, taking up every space on Main Street, but when you step back and take a “reality pill”, you will realize that folks in Hartselle do not support businesses in Hartselle, and no one can keep their cute little gift shop open if everyone in town goes to Decatur or hits Bridgestreet for everything they need. The entity that makes a lot of these decisions in Hartselle, is made up of many folks that are so afraid of anyone other than their neighbors on the pew next to them on Sunday, that they will not even allow a bike rally to be centered in downtown (where all the businesses and restaurants are) because they are afraid someone in leather or with tattoos will spoil the aesthetics.
I don’t have all the answers on how to draw tourism into Hartselle, but making our ordinances so restrictive that businesses that WANT to be here and give us their sales tax dollars to help our small-town economy and help us build a new high school and do all the other things that Hartselle dreams of doing doesn’t seem like the most direct line to the goal. If so, we really need to rethink the “Welcome to the City of Southern Hospitality” slogan that we have adopted, or add a disclaimer in fine print beneath it.
Thanks for the platform to vent some frustrations!