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Exciting times
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These are exciting times. Richmond Hill is on the cusp of renewed growth in a community where it appears that academics have traditionally taken precedent over any other activity in our schools, contrary to the national trend. (Applause) Thank you Superintendant Brewer and Educators. Our overall environment provides a quality of life that continues to draw folks who appreciate the uniqueness of the community.

Really good schools, really good roads and really pleasant surroundings are the three "R’s" for community leadership to concentrate on. I know, that is a massive over-simplification of the challenge of managing a community but then I am in a position where all I have to do is complain and let somebody else do all the work.

Harry Fowler is a former councilman for the City of Richmond Hill and has entered the race for Mayor. I was encouraged by the comments made by Mr. Fowler in last Saturday’s Bryan County News. In his comments, Mr. Fowler addressed the subject of cooperation and potential consolidation of some services between City and County Government. That subject deserves a lot of attention. Mr. Fowler’s comment regarding the compatibility of tree ordinances with development was music to my ears. He also spoke of matching city and county ordinances where feasible with more green space and bicycle paths. The reference he made to "fewer homes per acre within the city limits" as is the case in the County, equates to "more green space." This is all 21st century, pro-active, positive thinking.

In the last session of the State Legislature a bill was passed and is on the Governor’s desk for signature allowing more visibility and proliferation of giant billboards along our highways. That is typical of the type legislation you will find walking with ease thru the current administration.

The bill was about reducing existing restrictions on clearing of trees, I assume to allow for more visibility and increased numbers of billboards along our highways. Never mind the pollution caused by surface water runoff due to the absence of root systems to hold the soil. There is also a loss of filtering of the ground and air that a tree provides for us along the Co2 choked highways. Never mind the visual blight that a billboard poses. Combine that state level stupidity with the recent additions we have locally in not just plain old bill boards but electronic psychedelic, flashing billboards and it spells trouble in River City!

I can’t think of anything uglier, more intrusive and more useless than a huge billboard. It’s "route 66 and the fifties." We can do better. I wonder how many people actually stop at a place because they saw it on a billboard. I rather think their stop would be connected to the need for gas, prior reservations at a particular motel or the call of nature. Lets’ not forget the derelict billboards with the peeling paper and rotting or rusting frames advertising businesses long closed.

In this day and time we have many sources of information for what we want or need that do not blight the landscape and are generally far more current. If you need a service do you get in your car and ride down the street reading the billboards or do you pick up the phone directory, or call information, or turn on your computer or your blackberry. OK I know the difference. I am just trying to make a point.

Today’s technology allows an individual to dial up, punch in, drag down or click on instant and current information about any kind of service or any location one desires along with an electronic map and voice over directions. A sign in front of the place of business is a given. Hopefully the business sign is one of reasonable size, tasteful design and colors that don’t give you a headache.

I remember when I used to buy yellow page advertising. The salesman would prod me to buy "bigger" by subtly suggesting that my competition was going to go "Bigger." I wonder if that is the game in outdoor advertising. "Well your competition down the street is going with one eighty feet in the air and fifty feet wide with flashing purple lights and an arm waving at you!"

The only billboards I can think of as being unobtrusive, would be the poetic "Burma shave" signs, remember those? Of course the "See Rock city" painted on the top of a classic old barn wasn’t bad either. I went and saw Rock City the first time I got close to it on a trip. Turns out the signs were more entertaining than the rocks. Imagine the difference in that "See Rock City" message if it had been a psychedelic flashing sign that lit up the sky for miles around. It would have changed a pleasant memory to a very painful one and probably caused a few airplane crashes.

I hope Mr. Fowler puts a re-visit of sign ordinances in his platform. Of course by election time it might be too late. Along with our renewed growth, we are also on the cusp of starting to look like a Florida fruit stand exit.

Roy Hubbard is a Richmond Hill resident, an environmentalist and a former Green Beret who now operates a charter boat.

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