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March 30, 1996

My thanks to TCI, our cable television provider, for their decision to add the long-awaited American Movie Classics (AMC) channel to our expanded basic service in Perry as well as five more channels -- Cartoon, ESPN 2, the Learning Channel, Country Music Television and the TV! channel. All six are now part of our expanded basic package, along with a modest increase in monthly charges. AMC certainly will be warmly welcomed here. Several Perry viewers have been urging our cable provider to offer it for two years or more. AMC features some great films from the movies' golden decades.

I don't know what type of programming the TV! channel provides. It's not included in any of the listings we now receive. I also can't find listings for Cartoon, ESPN 2 or the Country Music Television channel, but their names are self-explanatory. Wonder how we'll learn about their schedules? Reruns already have started on the major networks, so perhaps the new additions will give us something interesting to watch once in a while.

City council members will discuss immediate, short range and long range plans at their meeting next Monday night, and Mayor Hollingsworth has given them a list of ideas in each category for suggestions as a starter. I read through the lists and was disappointed to find no mention anywhere of a remedy for our downtown traffic signal situation. Signals on the east side of the square have been blinking only red for months and now the west side lights also have been converted to that confusing pattern.

I have witnessed or been part of minor traffic jams at each corner of the square in recent days as motorists move tentatively into the intersection, only to be halted by someone else moving toward them simultaneously. And the poor pedestrian never knows when to scurry across the street.

Surely the current system of blinking lights is not the best that's available for motorists and pedestrians in the downtown area. It is perplexing, easy to misunderstand, and an invitation to multiple car pileups, personal injuries and worse. Out of town visitors chuckle at our traffic lights. Come on, city council members, this seems like a problem that can be solved with something better than blinking red lights. It should be on your list of things to do immediately.

The recent complaint in this column about the ongoing problem of starlings in the city drew comments of support from some of you. This is not a new matter here by any means. A feature on page one of The Perry Daily Journal on October 2, 1937, estimated that 25,000 to 35.000 blackbirds and cowbirds roosted each night in the courthouse park trees. I believe that was the year county commissioners authorized the use of shotgun blasts to frighten the birds out of the trees. They seem to be very sensitive to loud noises (especially issuing from loaded shotguns), but that didn't solve the problem back them. The pesky birds just migrated to another part of town, although many remained in the courthouse park nests. Nowadays you can find them about anywhere, but one of the heaviest concentrations is on the north side of town.