Rays of sun are shining on rail service

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2016

There appears to be some rays of excitement from enthusiasts who are pushing for the return of passenger railway service to the area between New Orleans and Jacksonville. This is especially so since rail tracks and beds have now been repaired following damage from Hurricane Katrina and other strong storms.

But there is a growing feeling among some lawmakers, especially Republicans, that financially supplementing railway passenger travel is unwise. In fact, this issue was looked upon unfavorably at last week’s Republican convention. Even the Poarch Creeks would have no influence changing the minds of these lawmakers. By the way, I saw members of the tribe in photo ops with some of the Republicans while watching the convention on TV.

The real hang up is the geographical location of this route. Some lawmakers believe the area will always be pronged by damaging hurricanes. This has been the case twice over the past several years. You have not heard this concern aired publicly, but the more knowledgeable legislators content this is a valid reason to not supplement passenger service.

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While a study of rail service is ongoing, it has become evident that many towns along the route have not prepared for “stops.” Even though the stops would be limited, only Atmore can now handle “depot” operations. But the commission making the study said Atmore would still have to make considerable updates. Mobile is reported to be updating its depot. (More detailed information about the route can be found on AL.com under “Obstacles, Alternatives emerge in Alabama’s push for more passenger rail.”

Some believe more experts, engineers, etc., should be added to the study group and not rely on novice and untrained members.

Making the industry totally private would end the need for governmental support. Perhaps the Creeks could play a role in this concept. They have come to the rescue of many, many worthwhile causes not only here, but in areas throughout the entire south.

Sept. 4 is the date for the report on restoration to be complete. Hopefully, answers to this controversial issue will be known by then.

Another issue facing Alabamians is the lotto issue. Our Governor has made a 180-degree turn, and is now pushing for favorable lotto programs in the state. One can wonder how he can even make decisions about this or any other projects with his receiving a barrage of unfavorable news stories about his linkage with his secretary.

Jason Zengerle wrote a blistering account of his “affair” on AL.com last June. His piece was titled “The Love Song of Robert Bentley Alabama’s Horndog Governor.” This is only one of several stories shaming the Governor.

Bentley shows signs of strength, however, as the stories pile on him. Perhaps his turn for the lotto will recapture some of his statue. Pulpits across the state are blasting him for this in hopes of convincing voters to vote down the lotto if it, indeed, becomes a voting issue.

Folks, do you realize the role Billy Gates plays in our community? Wounded in a far eastern war as a member of our national guard, he has emerged as quite an authority in veteran matters. In addition he oversees veteran’s breakfast meals, military funerals and evens helps veterans get answers to their benefits needs. He is the main source behind the “bricks” in the memorial section of our courtyard. The bricks depict military men and women who lost their life in combat. Oh, by the way those breakfast meals are open to the general public, not just veterans.

Students and teachers will be back in the classrooms in just a few short days and college football makes its debut in about one month.

All these late summer and fall happenings can only remind us that hurricane season is upon us. And rightly so because we have one eye on a developing storm right now and one eye on other storms ready to soar off the African coast.

Those I worked for over the past 35 years tell me we can expect as many as seven storms to form and some could possibly get into the Gulf. There are no west-to-east blowing winds to impair them this year because the weather factor El Niño has evacuated. Of course predictions do not mean these hurricane will come our way. Right now they are conversation pieces but you can never overlook their possibilities.

More news next week.

Contact Lowell at exam@frontiernet.net.