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Georgia editorial roundup

By The Associated PressJune 12, 2019

Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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June 11

The August Chronicle on former Augusta National Golf Club chairman Billy Payne’s contributions to the sport:

Billy Payne didn’t expect it. But he richly deserved it.

On Monday, the gentleman who served for 11 years as chairman of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament was inducted into the prestigious World Golf Hall of Fame.

He is one of the newest members of the Hall with four other inductees - two-time U.S. Open champion Retief Goosen; three-time LPGA major champion Jan Stephenson; Dennis Walters, a pro golfer whose career-ending injury helped spark a second career as a golf trick-shot artist; and Peggy Kirk Bell, as a pro and an instructor one of the strongest advocates for women’s golf.

Payne also is honored in the Hall alongside Augusta National co-founders Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts. Jones is arguably the finest amateur golfer ever, and Roberts introduced many innovations to tournament golf.

Loran Smith first met Payne during their days at the University of Georgia - Payne as a student and a football player under the renowned Vince Dooley, and Smith in his career as a legendary UGA writer and broadcaster.

“What Billy did, without being an elite golfer with a blue-blood résumé, is remarkable,” Smith told The Augusta Chronicle, in an April feature imagining who would best fit on a hypothetical “Mount Rushmore” of golf. “His exceptional leadership and extraordinary vision define him; his ability to make tough but equitable decisions sets him apart. Most of all, he doesn’t have an ego to cripple his ability to overachieve.”

How right Smith is. Like many of the finest people who achieve the greatest accomplishments, Payne never focused attention on himself. He is never one to bask in his own glory.

“Augusta National, to be truthful, it’s an institution that shines virtually at all times,” he told The Augusta Chronicle last week. “I guess some of that shine reflected on me a little bit. For that, I’m grateful.”

If a single word could describe Payne’s tenure at the National, that word would be “inclusion.”

The sport of golf has taken knocks as being somehow inaccessible to many people. Thanks to Payne, more people - and from more diverse backgrounds — are enjoying golf than ever before.

In 2012, Payne headed the National when it admitted its first women members - distinguished political scientist and diplomat Condoleezza Rice, and investor and philanthropist Darla Moore.

Payne sought the assistance of golf’s top governing bodies to create the Drive, Chip and Putt Championship - a yearly event for children ages 7-15 attracting thousands of competitive youngsters, with the finals held at Augusta National on the eve of the Masters.

Payne also helped create new amateur tournaments - the Asia-Pacific Amateur and Latin America Amateur. Each tournament got an impressive boost by offering a Masters berth to each tourney’s winner.

He also helped bring the Masters into the digital age, expanding its use of the latest technology and offering more content for fans on the tournament’s website_- such as live videos and a tracking system to follow each golfer’s progress on the course.

Payne not only upheld the respected tradition that defines the National, the Masters and the sport of golf, but also found opportunities to make each one better. It’s a proud legacy few could ever match.

Online: https://www.augustachronicle.com

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June 10

The Savannah Morning News on storm preparedness ahead of hurricane season:

No bigger an expert on coastal living than crooner Jimmy Buffett once acknowledged escape is the only way to reason with the hurricane season.

Since few of us have the means to spend the next six months in Paris, as Buffett suggests, we must take more practical measures.

The 2019 Atlantic hurricane season is now 11 days old. The term “season” is a bit misleading, as the East Coast sees most of its storm activity between Labor Day and Halloween. Given the unusual weather events of these times, such as the recent tornadoes in Ohio and other areas of the Midwest, we would do well to be on our guard even at this early date.

National forecasters are calling for two to four major Atlantic hurricanes this year. They consider that an “average season,” but as this decade has shown, it only takes one average hurricane to devastate an area.

Look at what Michael, a Category 3 storm, did last year in Florida and Southwest Georgia and Florence, a Category 1, did in North Carolina.

Or the damage done by Matthew, a Category 1 that passed 20 miles off our shore, three years ago.

Then there are above-average storms, like Harvey and Sandy.

The forecasts do not “mean the season is going to be quiet,” said Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “You need to start getting prepared now as with every hurricane season.”

Other meteorology experts back that assessment, particularly given current El Niño conditions. El Niño is a Pacific Ocean phenomenon of warming sea surface temperatures, which results in greater wind shear across the Caribbean Sea.

When El Niño conditions are strong, the winds produced tend to suppress the intensity of Atlantic hurricanes as they cross the ocean from off Africa’s coast. But when El Niño is weak, as it is said to be this year, storms push west largely unimpeded.

Emergency management pros will soon collaborate on a statewide hurricane exercise led by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, or GEMA. The training is meant to test disaster plans and procedures.

Savannah-area residents would do well to take time now to review their own hurricane strategies. Most of us are weary of storms but don’t take action until one begins to track in our direction. Having a preparedness plan removes some of the stress from securing one’s home and evacuating in the face of an approaching tempest.

Start with a hurricane kit. Ready Georgia, a statewide campaign of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency/Homeland Security, recommends a three-day supply of water — one gallon per person per day — nonperishable food, medications and pet supplies as well as a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, a mobile device charger, a first-aid kit and plenty of batteries.

Also, talk through your family evacuation plan and what needs to be done to your home before you leave.

We can’t reason with the hurricane season. But we can be ready for a storm’s approach.

Online: https://www.savannahnow.com

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June 9

The Ledger-Enquirer on the Georgia Legislature’s new commission to fix interstate truck traffic:

Whenever a public discussion begins about needed improvements for Georgia’s infrastructure, camps quickly form and divide into a battle of mass transit versus roads. The debate devolves into whether people want to ride together through mass transit, or whether we can build enough roads for everyone to be able to drive in the most congested parts of the state.

While we continue to argue about moving people, trucks moving freight continue to fill Georgia’s highways.

Truck traffic is great enough on Atlanta’s Interstate 285 bypass that the law requiring trucks to stick to the right two lanes is all but unenforceable. There just isn’t room in those lanes to fit all the trucks anymore. Motorists are left generally with one lane that is usually exclusively for cars, and then trying to navigate three lanes of trucks when it’s time to exit. It’s like a real world version of the video game Frogger.

In the rest of Georgia, the problem usually manifests itself with lines of traffic backing up on two-lane interstates waiting for a slow truck to pass an even slower truck. There are also places well known to the state’s travelers such as trying to navigate the Interstate 16/Interstate 75 interchange. Merging there isn’t for the faint of heart.

The upside of all the truck traffic is that it’s a sign of a growing economy, and additional jobs for Georgia’s logistics industry. Distribution Centers now line I-16 and most freeways leading in and out of Atlanta on all sides.

Then there’s Georgia’s ports, which continue to grow and set new records monthly. Some have taken to blaming the ports for the increased truck traffic, but that’s an exercise in finding a scapegoat.

Atlanta, specifically, would be having a truck problem if the ports were growing or not. The fact of the matter is that Atlanta continues to grow, and with a metro area population now bigger than 30 states, it’s a concentration of people whose roads — for trucks and for passenger cars — haven’t kept up for a generation.

All of the things Georgians buy via the internet or at brick and mortar stores have to get to us somehow, and at some stage that’s likely going to involve a truck or three on our highways. We’re a state with more people, buying more things.

The Georgia Legislature will take up the matter of truck traffic with a joint House-Senate Commission this summer, seeing both an issue to be solved and economic development opportunities. The Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission will “find ways to move freight more efficiently throughout Georgia spurring economic growth and job creation,” per the press release announcing the House speaker’s and lieutenant governor’s appointments to the group.

The group includes three state senators and three representatives, six members from the logistics industry, and four representative members from local governments. Representatives from the Georgia Municipal Association, Association County Commissioners of Georgia, the Georgia and Metro Atlanta Chambers of Commerce, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority will serve in an ex-officio (non-voting) capacity.

Without trying to oversimplify their work, the study will be a matrix of alternatives. Reducing truck traffic likely means increasing the amount of freight shipped by rail. Every box car or container on a train represents a truck not on Georgia’s roads.

In addition, Atlanta’s traffic problem is one that many other Georgia communities see as an opportunity. Upgrading the state’s highways with routes suitable for large trucks that bypass metro Atlanta would alleviate some traffic issues while opening the door for smaller, rural communities to attract their share of employers in the logistics field.

Online: https://www.ledger-enquirer.com

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