One of my favorite blogs is villageidiotsavant.blogspot.com written by a young man named Dominique Cimafranca.Not only is Dom a talented writer, but he keeps it interesting by writing on a variety of subjects.
I've tried to do much the same thing by writing about such diverse subjects as American politics Nigerian scammers, or prayer in public schools.
I've tried my hand at Satire and I've written on my "home-away-from-home Dumaguete.
One lesson I've taken from Dom's blog is that I should write a bit more about things that are happening where I live. So, to that end, I'm relating a story that happened here a few years back.
The roots of the story go back more than 20 years. Like all U.S. cities, Rome GA has a problem with traffic.To alleviate the problem, the main East/West road ( Turner McCall Ave.) was widened several years ago and a companion-nearly parallel road (Veterans Highway) was built not long after that. To further help ease the congestion, roads were needed to run North/South to connect the two.There was one particular road already doing that. Riverside Parkway.Unfortunately, Riverside Parkway was not wide enough nor straight enough to accommodate the added traffic.
So, it was voted upon more than twenty years ago to provide funds so that the much needed widening could get underway.
This is where the problem started. Almost immediately, a group was formed to stop the road project and court injunctions were filed.One problem with the new project, the group said, was that the large stately oaks growing along the road would be destroyed during road construction.
Finally, in 2005, the case was won by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the work could go on. A compromise had been reached where as a number of the trees would be preserved by means of a median in the road.
As work began,Rome City Manager John Bennett said he noticed that trees that were supposed to have been marked for preservation were being cut down and he asked Public Works Director Kirk Milam to investigate.
“There were some trees the contractor was supposed to take down. He took down the wrong ones,” said Bert Brantley, director of communications for the Georgia Department of Transportation. “We absolutely regret it, and we’re definitely going to look at what we can do to mitigate the situation.”
Needless to say, quite a controversy ensued with allegations of conspiracy on the part of the DOT.
The strangest part of the story, in my view, is what happened after the incident.
About 45 mourners attended a memorial service for the oak trees, which were mistakenly cut down.
According to the local paper:
"The solemn melody of “Taps” rang out over the swishing din of passing motorists on Riverside Parkway as a group of Romans bowed their heads around a stately oak tree and said their good-byes."
The paper goes on to say:
"Members of Rome Federated Garden Clubs Inc. erected nine straw wreaths festooned with golden bows in honor of each fallen oak, and retired preacher the Rev. Warren Jones provided a short eulogy."
One of the residents who had been dedicated to saving the trees for more than a decade, Virginia Jackson, said she was grief-stricken when she drove past the site and saw the trees were gone. “I had a lump in my throat and a knot in my stomach,” she said.
Elizabeth Neal, a former president of the RFGC, said she hoped the memorial service will show that people in Rome “care about their trees.”
Let me be clear about something.I am very sorry that the trees were felled by mistake.However, millions of dollars were spent of this.....wasted money.Add to that, it is a sacrilege to have a memorial service for trees as if the trees were like human beings. Playing Taps? Eulogy by a retired minister? Give me a break.
Links to the news reports can be found
After revisiting this story, I learned that the links to the original news story are no longer available. I've found a copy of the newspaper article at news.google.com