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June 10, 1997

Since our local schools were dismissed the other day, I have made a conscious effort to be more alert while driving along city streets. Many youngsters are riding bikes on them now. Even more are blithely running, walking, skating and what have you, hither and yon, and they don't always remember to watch out for vehicle traffic, so it's left to us grownups to protect them by driving carefully.

I thought about this the other day while heading north on Seventh street, just a block or so off the square. I had just come from the square where construction of our new courthouse park sidewalks is causing some temporary inconveniences, like blinking traffic lights at all four intersections. Workmen and vehicles were busily engaged in taking out the old sidewalks and portions of the curb, and I could not help but notice that neither flagmen nor warning pylons were in use as vehicles gingerly made their way from one side of the square to another, being careful not to hit a front end loader, a workman or some kind of heavy equipment along the way. But that's a whole 'nother issue.

Two very young bikers were ahead of me, going single-file in the correct lane of traffic as we neared the traffic light at Seventh and Fir. The signal was red and as I prepared to stop I saw in my rear view mirror a pickup making a U-turn in the middle of the street behind me, despite traffic approaching from both directions. That is very illegal, not to mention unwise. At precisely the same moment, a late model car in front of me executed the exact same maneuver -- making an illegal U-turn to reach a parking place on the other side of the street. The driver made a friendly hand wave as he went by.

Meanwhile, the bikers had stopped, properly, looking behind them as they did, and they waited for the light to change to green before proceeding on their way. Somebody had taught them the basics of road safety for bicycle riders. Let's hope they retain that good sense as adults and that they don't join the ranks of drivers who feel they can get away with illegal U-turns despite the potential for an accident they thereby create. In Perry, it's not too far from any one point to another, so we surely don't have to take such short cuts in the name of saving time.

New business activity around the square and on the other adjacent streets certainly is welcome and looks good. Many property owners are sprucing up their shops or other places of business. You can easily tell which ones keep their windows clean enough to see through and those who sweep the sidewalks each day. Unfortunately, though, we're seeing more grass being allowed to grow in the cracks of concrete walks and that does create an unsightly appearance.

Congratulations to all those in the offices and shops on the south side, however. A perfunctory survey leads me to believe that those folks currently can claim to have the best tended side of the square.

I hope that someday we can revive those monthly awards for the most attractive business place and the prettiest residential yard. I thought that was a good way of calling attention to some of our good features, and it probably stimulated some of us to keep our weeds mowed a little better. Maybe one of our city beautification groups can pick up on the torch in this particular crusade. It will pay dividends for all of us.