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Public cut out of Taber ”compromise’

More on the continuing saga of “Stop Sign Alley,” otherwise known as George Taber Blvd. in Glen St. Mary.

The newspaper is picking up more complaints from motorists who feel, as does yours truly, that the county’s effort to appease the First Baptist Church of Glen, which initially wanted to close Taber, amounts to silly overkill.

In what the county now calls a “compromise,” four stop signs were erected at Taber’s intersection with two east-west streets — Andrews and South Boulevard — ostensibly to slow traffic north and south past church buildings on both sides of the road.

In addition, the county installed a raised pedestrian crossing over Taber between the main church buildings and others to the west, plus a parking area.

County Manager C.J. Thompson said the plan was worked out between the county and church officials after the county commission balked at the church’s bid to close the road.

Hence, the “compromise.”

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Prohibit curbside soliciting

Sandwhich board sign soliciting donations at US 90 and 5th Street last week.Driving around the Macclenny area late last week, you’d likely come across people soliciting cash for an organization billing itself as the Disabled Veterans Foundation.

Clad in camouflage fatigues and handing out miniature American flags, motorists got the impression they were veterans helping other vets with “food, clothing, housing and work.” That’s what it said on those sandwich signs posted at collection points.

The newspaper (and city hall) fielded numerous telephone inquiries as to just who these people were. Are they legit, callers wanted to know.

We posted on the newspaper’s Facebook page an article indicating the Plantation-based non-profit organization may not be what it’s cracked up to be. The gist: it’s unclear how much of what it collects actually ends up in the pockets of down-and-out veterans.

Yours truly spoke with one of the collectors (a nice gentleman), who made the startling revelation that until recently he had been homeless. He was part of the Disabled Veterans Foundation team moving from city to city collecting money.

He was being paid, and the non-profit was footing travel expenses for the group. He seemed truly grateful for the opportunity.

According to a Miami television station, this and other similar organizations that tug at the heart strings of Americans concerned about the fate of our veterans are out there collecting money. They are not affiliated with government agencies like the Veterans Administration, and many of them are, well, a bit on the shady side.

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Church wedding rental fees steep

Dear Editor:

My son is getting married in November and we’re trying to find a place here in Baker County to have the ceremony. He called a few churches, but they want $800 to $1500 to rent the church, not counting the reception.

This upsets me. My father started a church in Baker County 40 years ago, and has helped a lot of churches in this area. He, Bro. Leslie Thomas, and many other preachers worked together and did a lot of good in this community, and I never knew of them charging for someone to have a wedding in their church.

The Christian Fellowship Temple wants $800, First Baptist Church of Glen (where I was married 27 years ago without charge and where my husband Tommy helped build the church) wants $1500.

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The stop signs to no where

Taber Blvd. signage leading up to the stop signs.The recent positioning of two stop signs at the intersection of Taber Blvd. with two virtually untraveled streets in Glen St. Mary as a way of slowing traffic is, well, not a good solution.

You’ll recall last June the county commission balked at the Glen First Baptist Church’s request to close the road altogether, opening the door to a compromise that recognizes the public’s need to use a well-established right-of-way (10,500 weekly trips by latest count) and the church’s concern for safety.

So we have two stop signs (at Andrews St. which is going to be closed anyway and South Boulevard south of church property) where they are simply not needed, and they’re for safety reasons?

That’s hardly a compromise. It’s overkill, and a needless nuisance to motorists.

Recently the county re-surfaced Taber from US 90 south to CR 125 and placed an elevated walk where church pedestrians cross from buildings on the west side of Taber to the main complex on the east side.

That’s a compromise.

The elevated walkway and clearly marked pedestrian crossing, along with the 25 mph speed limit on Taber, clearly cover the county’s concern protecting churchgoers during Sunday and Wednesday service times, and other events, at the church.

Stop sign placement hundreds of feet either side of the crossing is pointless.

A reasonable addition would be stop signs in both directions at the crosswalk, mounted on rotatable posts that can be turned toward traffic during church and church-activity times.

Motorists would then be required to stop at the crosswalk. The signs, manned by either church volunteers or off-duty deputies as crossing guards, constitute more than adequate diligence to protect pedestrians.

As was pointed out in this column last year, Glen Baptist created the problem by having buildings on both sides of the established right-of-way. The county commission heard from citizens who want Taber to remain open, and support for closure failed to get a seconding motion so it died.

That part, then, is settled.

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