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Post-Katrina FEMA rushes into help

It’s still galling to remember how the George Bush-hating media and American Left used the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina seven years ago to club him over the head.

No one had to tell us how destructive it was, slamming with full force into the Crescent City Below Sea Level and taking over 1800 lives along the Gulf Coast and elsewhere as the storm raged inland.

Mr. Bush was following the law waiting for what turned out to be dawdling incompetents to ask for federal assistance as Katrina howled toward the coast. He eventually took control of the evacuation and relief efforts, alas too late to help thousands of people in the storm’s path.

Yet he was castigated, as was the oversight by the federal relief agency FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). The late reaction was turned into a political billy club and effectively obscured from public view the timidity of local politicians and bureaucrats who had primary responsibility for the safety of their citizens.

So, if anything good can be said to come from the Katrina disaster, it’s the role of FEMA. Never again, it seems, will the federal relief agency be caught standing around when disasters hit.

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Better data needed on sand mining plans

Is there an echo in here? Yes, my friends, there is.

In this space last week The Press’ publisher Jim McGauley called on the county commission to exercise due diligence in evaluating the two sand mining proposals it delayed taking action on until August.

That’s great advice considering how much water the mines intend to use. Water is a public resource and perhaps the most important natural resource behind the air we breath.

But here’s why I would go even further, and say the county should hire this independent third-party engineer, that the mining companies have so generously pledged to pay for. Commissioners would be wise to ensure this expert digs deeper (pardon the pun) than the St. Johns River Water Management District appears to be going with its permitting process.

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Summer energy levels diminish with age

Ah, the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer.

Or however the sixties song lyric goes.

Today is the first day of my summer vacation – or “vacay” in teenager terminology.

When I was a kid this would have meant that I barreled out the front door with a sword I’d made from a ruler and a Popsicle stick, ready to do battle against the forces of evil and the cat next door.

I climbed trees and played in the dirt and ran around and picked wildflowers and got so dirty that I left a bathtub ring. I picked wild onions and ate them, hid behind trees and jumped out at passing cars making my best pirate face. I practiced my Tarzan yells and baked brown. In short, I wrung every bit of pleasure out of summer.

It was just as hot then as it is now, but I never noticed it. Days were just as long but seemed shorter. I stayed outside until my mother called me in for the night. Then I watched TV and planned what I would do the next day.

Somewhere along the line that has changed and I probably should do something to change it back.

For example.

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Don’t let mishap spoil the fireworks

Lawyers are everywhere.

Even if their numbers are somewhat modest in Baker County, they’re still all around us.

Why bring this up?

Last week’s fireworks “malfunction” (remember the “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl?) at Memorial Stadium at the close of the BCHS graduation ceremony is why.

As you’ll note in the news coverage of the event in this week’s edition, there was stonewalling on the part of the school district and Macclenny Fire Department (which supervised the pyrotechnics) to reveal just who it was that furnished the fireworks.

The high school principal said, in effect, since they were “donated” he was reluctant to name the source. He did, however, assert the school district was responsible for fireworks being part of the graduation program.

Kinda hard to deny that. Otherwise, we’d have to assume some entity, vigilantes perhaps, brought the fireworks to the event without warning and “Bam!” — they went off.

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