Exponent Editorial, Tuesday, March 16, 1999
Price tag for 911 system truly a bargain
Peace of mind, sadly, sometimes comes with a price tag.
Randolph County commissioners and the county emergency
services director have been debating implementing a 911 system in the county.
They've been going at this at a pretty cautious pace, because the idea
has been shot down in the past.
In the early 1990s, residents opposed such action because they didn't
want to pay $2 per month for two years until the county could save enough
money to pay for installing the system.
After a few meetings about 911 in the last few months,
residents seemed to be in support of having a centralized dispatching unit
in the county. Only about 11 counties in the state have yet to implement
a system. About eight of those counties have ordinances to enact a system,
but haven't yet.
It would cost Randolph County, one of the largest
and most rural in the state, about $200,000 to $500,000 just to implement
the system. It would take anywhere from 12 to 16 months to get the system
operational. The system commissioners have examined would offer call back
numbers and a location for each call and would be top-of-the-line.
"I don't think we will go with anything else," said
Marvin Hill, deputy director for Randolph County Emergency Services. "When
we do put it in, we want to go with a good system."
County residents would have to pay anywhere from
50 cents to $2.65 a month extra on their phone bills to get this system.
We urge residents of the county to think about what $2.65 a month can
get them. It's a couple of candy bars or a sandwich from a fast food restaurant.
Or, it's the peace of mind of knowing that if they have an emergency, that
a rescue squad could be easily reached. You only have to remember three
little numbers, and children everywhere are taught them now.
We encourage residents to pack a lunch once a month
instead of eating out and let that $2.65 Ñ at the most Ñ
go to peace of mind.
Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial
board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser,
James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.
Coffee Talk, Tuesday, 3-16-99
When it comes to tobacco use, I'm neither proponent
by Troy Graham
Tobacco has taken an awful lot of heat in the media
in the last year or two. In all that time, no one has even bothered to
argue in its defense.
Well, guess what Ñ I'm not going to defend it either.
Besides, why would I defend tobacco when I hate
smoking? Sometimes. Actually, I love smoking, even though I hate it. (As
you can see, I have a classical love-hate relationship with the ole coffin
Common sense dictates that I must hate it. How can
I not? Every time I run up a flight of stairs and have to catch my breath,
I hate it. Every time one of my little sisters says I "stink like smoke,"
I hate it.
Smoking is unmistakably bad for you. They even tell you right on the
side of the package: Hey, dummy, this stuff will kill you. In England they
sell a discount cigarette brand called "Death" that comes in a black box
with a skull and crossbones on it. That's truth in advertising.
But there must be something inherently self-destructive,
or just plain ignorant, about smokers. Seinfeld did a skit where he wondered
how people can read a label on a shirt that says "Dry Clean Only" and swear
to never put it in the washing machine. Yet, when it comes to the label
on cigarettes, we ignore that big surgeon general's warning.
How can we believe a label that says it will be
detrimental to wash a shirt but not believe a label that says "this product
will kill you?" Truth is, we believe both labels. Smokers know how bad
their habit is. I often say I'm suicidal, but I'm not in a big hurry.
All smokers try to quit, too. Any smoker who has
never tried to quit is either too young to have felt the negative effects
or, like my grandmother, too old to care. My grandmother, God bless her,
had heart surgery 10 years ago but still smokes. She insists that at 70
years old there's no sense in quitting anyway.
But here comes the love part of the relationship.
No matter what our common sense tells us, there are still times when nothing
is as satisfying as a smoke. A meal isn't just a meal without a cigarette
afterward. I can't tell you how many times I've suffered from writer's
block only to have my brain jarred by walking around outside and smoking
a butt. And, of course, the reason I started smoking in the first place,
cigarettes go so well with a beer.
It is because of all these situations that I have been foiled in my
attempts to get rid of the smokes forever.
Both the way in which people try to quit, and the
rationales for continuing to smoke, are completely asinine. My personal
favorite excuse for smoking is "Hey, I could get run over by a bus tomorrow,
so I might as well be enjoying a smoke at the time." I also like my other,
hardly original theory: "They say every cigarette takes five minutes off
your life, but at least it's the last five minutes."
When I did try to quit (I succeeded in being smoke-free
for more than a month twice) I came up with the most ridiculous ways of
weaning myself off cigs. I'll only smoke eight a day on even-numbered days
and 10 a day on odd-numbered days.
Or, I'll only bum smokes when the urge hits me,
which is cheaper for me but quickly puts me in disfavor with my smoking
In the end, though, there is only one way to quit.
Cold turkey. It can be done, as my dad showed when he quit a three-pack-a-day
I know I too will have to quit again, this time
permanently, if not for my health, at least for the fact that smokers are
increasingly ostracized in today's society.
I got an e-mail once that had a list of humorous
things stewardesses have said on planes. One speaks directly to my point:
"For those of you wishing to smoke, feel free to use our smoking area out
on the wing."
So, love 'em or hate 'em or both, the writing is
on the wall. Pass the turkey and don't bother heating it up.
Telegram Editorial, March 16, 1999
Better regulation of sweepstakes industry needed
If the sweepstakes industry earns its money honestly,
as it claims, why do dozens of elderly residents show up at the Tampa,
Fla., office of American Family Publishers to claim million-dollar prizes
they believe they've won? Why do thousands of other senior citizens say
they've waited at home (in vain) for the Publishers Clearing House Prize
Patrol to arrive? Why did a Texas man buy 32 subscriptions to U.S. News
and World Report- one paid up through 2018?
The answer, of course, is that the sweepstakes industry
does not earn its money honestly. It tries to deceive consumers, especially
elderly consumers, into believing (a) they have already won a million-dollar
prize or (b) they can increase their chances of winning by making more
purchases from the sweepstakes company.
Sweepstakes spokesmen deny this, of course. American
Family Enterprises" vice president of marketing says: "The point of our
mailings is not to convince people they've already won a sweepstakes, but
rather to be excited about the possibility of wining and to consider our
Two days of public testimony before the U.S. Senate
proved otherwise. The testimony showed that consumers (many consumers)
are being deceived by the sweepstakes industry. Florida residents would
not show up at American Family Publishers' Tampa office to claim non-existent
prizes if they had not been misled. One man in Texas would not buy 32 subscriptions
to the same magazine if he had not been misled.
That's why we support better regulation of the sweepstakes
industry. Two bills proposed in the U.S. Senate are a good starting point.
One, proposed by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, would establish the first
federal regulations aimed at the sweepstakes industry; deceptive sales
practices could bring a federal fine of up to $2 million. Another bill,
sponsored by Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, would require a toll-free
number that consumers could call to have their names removed from sweepstakes
The Senate testimony showed that many of the sweepstakes'
victims are elderly. Sen. Collins suggested that is because older Americans
"come from a generation that is trusting." Whatever the reason, older Americans
living on fixed incomes can least afford to lose their money in the sweepstakes
Let's protect older Americans. Let's protect all
Americans. It's time to put a stop to the sweepstakes swindle.
Telegram Editorial Board member