Saturday, May 7, 2011

A couple of flood-related news items

The cleanup is about to begin in Illinois now that the water is going down, but it will be a slow process. People in Cairo are allowed back into their neighborhoods from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

According to this article, it could be weeks before travel is back to normal in western Kentucky. Even after the water goes down, roads have to be cleaned and inspected. Some may need major repairs.

News roundup

A couple of news items that do not have to do with flooding on the lower Ohio:

According to an article in the New York Times, Brooke County WV has the largest gap between births and deaths per 100 people of any county in a metropolitan area in the U.S., except for counties that are magnets for retirees. One reason cited in the article is that Brooke County is not a magnet for Hispanic immigrants.

Here's a question: Why are companies that haul freight on the Ohio River the only ones taxed to pay for construction and maintenance of its locks and dams when there are many more companies that benefit from the stable water levels the dams provide? This article explores who benefits from the dams.

Ohio speed traps

If you're driving along the Ohio River in Ohio,  you're probably on State Route 7 or  U.S. 52, as those two highways handle most of the miles along the river road. If I'm reading my Ohio road map right, there are between 45 and 50 incorporated communities in Ohio along the river.

I'd list them, but the map is hard to read, and the Census Bureau Web site gives me loads of trouble when I try to retrieve information. I liked the old Census site, but some genius had to go and improve it by making it harder to use and forcing you to call up a lot of information you don't want just to get the little you do want. But that's a rant for another time.

I grew up along the river between Crown City and Gallipolis. One thing that you learn quickly is that when you're driving through a small town, you had better obey the posted speed limit.

Speed traps, you know.

What no one told me was that if the population of that town was less than its elevation above sea level, be extra careful.

Which brings us to the town in my area most notorious for being a speed trap: Hanging Rock, Ohio, population 221.

Check out this story in the Huntington WV newspaper by my old buddy Dave Malloy, which tells of two Hanging Rock police officers who have been indicted on charges of writing speeding tickets and pocketing the money. In particular, check out the final paragraph:

The village gets a vast majority of its budget from traffic fines, according to audits. The village received $178,000 in fines, licenses and permits, about 88 percent of the Hanging Rock 2008 general fund budget. The village collected $188,000 from fines, licenses and permits in 2007. The 2008 audit is the most recent available.

None of this surprised people who live in this area.

I don't know how it is in Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky or West Virginia (most of the speed traps I've heard about here are in the mountains, not along the river), but you'd better be careful of  your speed when you're driving through small-town Ohio.