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From weather follies to a chance to give back

Well, it is February -- at least for a few more days.

And you can tell simply by the weather that has ranged from fairly warm sunshine to oodles of rain to a touch of snow and ice that, if snow can be pretty was pretty, all of which have complicated our lives in recent days.

The wet snow that fell late last week made for some picturesque scenes around Franklin County, but fortunately the roads were mostly fine and travel was simple once the initial heavy flurries passed through.

But, as usual, the snow did provide some entertainment, although the Raleigh TV stations were tough to watch, so I caught only a few minutes of their overly excited coverage.

One station bragged that it had 10 or 11 reporters out "covering" the non-story, although what they were doing besides driving around looking kinda silly was beyond me.

I got a special kick out of one report -- delivered in a very serious voice by a lady standing in the warm and dry studio -- that showed a little section of U.S. 1.

She reluctantly noted that there was no snow sticking to the roadway, but then intoned in her most serious-sounding voice that the snow-covered, grassy median probably wasn't safe to drive on.

Really? I always figured that driving on a grassy median, even in 90-degree summer days, was to be avoided if at all possible.

But be warned -- do not drive on the grass if it's partially covered with snow or your tires might spin or something.

But while I got a good laugh out of that little news clip I did feel sorry for one reporter who was assigned to cover the storm in Fayetteville and was on air trying to explain the effects of the snowfall there.

The problem was that there was no snowfall there -- and he looked a little embarrassed about that fact while he intoned a serious prediction that the light rain could switch over to snow at any moment and just might bring the end to civilization as we know it. (Okay, that last part is my editorial comment.)

Poor guy, bet he won't be using that clip on his resume seeking another job.

By that time, I figured there had to be something else on the tube but even the reruns were reruns of the reruns and I decided that silence was golden and reached for a book.

It's truly sad about the state of television today, especially since the technology for delivering words and photos has evolved so far and even prices of big-screen TVs have plummeted.

And yet, it's mostly reruns, silly "reality" programming that has absolutely nothing to do with reality and way too many channels hawking overpriced products that usually don't work.

Yet the real frustration is that local TV stations almost literally break their corporate arms patting themselves on the back relentlessly and then waste resources sending too many people to stand outside to tell us it's raining or snowing, something we could learn by just looking out the window.

How about using those reporters to give us some crucial information about what the General Assembly is or is not doing, about the drug crisis that is such a problem in most communities, about the challenges of growth and development that is gobbling up farmland at a hectic pace or ... well, you get the picture.

For all its promise and potential, local TV has evolved into a medium that provides precious little reporting of value and its enormous potential to inform and educate is wasted on trivial tidbits that are here today and gone tomorrow, like snow or rain.

But, as one broadcaster used to say, "that's the way it is."

A first step

Now, on to more positive things -- and this one was a pleasant surprise.

After years of doing nothing about Franklin County's "buggy" radio communications system, it appears that the county commissioners are (at long last) getting fed up.

After hearing an endless array of promises and excuses over the last eight years or so, the commissioners issued what amounted to a "fix it or else" letter to the radio company last week.

Personally, I think they should have been much more specific about what the "or else" would be, but at least this is a start.

Vague, open-ended threats have never seemed to work very well for me, either in business or raising kids. Instead of a vague "or else" it always seems to work better to spell out exactly what the consequences will be!

The good news is that finally the commissioners are beginning to ask the right questions, the most pertinent of which is whether families are as safe as they could be if the radio system was more reliable.

That's a very pertinent question and another crucial question is whether first responders -- police, fire and emergency medical personnel -- have the reliable communication tools they need to function effectively and safely.

We've written a few stories about situations where this hasn't been the case and I suspect there are a lot more stories like that which we didn't know about at the time they happened.

Given the kind of money that has been invested in this communication system, we have a right to expect better and the company has an obligation to provide better.

Let's hope the commissioners stay on this path and that "or else" is enough of a threat to gain the attention of those who may be able to fix the problems.

But if the radio system can't be remedied, the "or else" will have to be the commissioners finding the political courage to toss this system out and find something that will work.

That's when we'll learn if they are really concerned about everyone's safety or just playing politics.

Stay tuned.

Winter visitors

When many Franklin Countians were running to grocery stores to snap up copious quantities of bread and milk, my better half took off to buy sunflower and thistle seed to keep the wild birds well fed.

We usually have a good population of birds -- cardinals, finches, chickadees, etc. -- that flit around the yard but this year the numbers have grown significantly.

A lot of timber, mostly pine, is being cut out our way and I don't know if that has disrupted our feathered friends or not, but the birds sure have flocked to our feeders in larger than normal numbers -- and aren't a bit shy about chowing down.

All I know for sure is that there are flocks of songbirds showing up -- and every one of 'em is hungry.

That's okay. They are fun to watch and it's nice to know that we humans haven't totally messed up the natural environment -- yet!

Just think, in three or four weeks, it'll be time to start putting out hummingbird feeders -- and their arrival signals that spring is just about here at long last!

The late Asher Johnson of The Franklin Times fame (and occasional infamy) got us started feeding "hummers" two decades ago and keeping the feeders clean and filled has become a routine part of our warm weather activities.

If you haven't been feeding the little flying buzz-bombs, I recommend buying a feeder (they are cheap) and a bag of sugar. Put the feeder up out in the open, preferably where you can watch it easily and sit back and enjoy the aerial show.

You'll be amazed at the antics these tiny birds can perform -- and the speed at which they fly and fight!

Be forewarned! If you're like a lot of us, you'll spend much more time watching the hummingbirds than you ever thought you would.

And don't be surprised if you find yourself researching what kinds of flowers and bushes you can plant to give them a natural source of food -- and attract still more of 'em.

Incidentally, all of this is a good way to teach the kids or grandkids a little more about nature and to engender a little more respect for this big ball of dirt we call home, yet tend to pollute and abuse so relentlessly.

Reversing roles

A benefit is being held this Saturday from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. to help Willis Gupton, a local country music performer who has reached out to help any number of local events in recent years.

Gupton is facing serious medical problems and folks are stepping up to return the favors that he so generously granted others over the years.

Saturday's event will be barbecue chicken plates, $8 each and take out only, which will be sold at Louisburg Fire Department, Cedar Rock Baptist Church and Ronnie White Tire's Louisburg location.

Already, the Moose Lodge held a benefit fish fry -- and quickly sold out.

Next month, the Louisburg Fire Department has agreed to share proceeds from the Fifth Annual Maude Fest concert with Gupton because, well, that's just what firemen do, help others.

Maude Fest will be held March 28 at the JPAC on the Louisburg College campus so pencil in the date -- and keep watching The Franklin Times for more details. From what we know already, this year's lineup will feature Larry Frick, Willis Gupton, Phil Redmond, Cliff Waddell with Shotgun Mary, Gary Brady, and Eric Strickland. The format of the concert will be reminiscent of a jam session at an old-fashioned country "honky-tonk," organizers say.

And, if you want to help directly, a non-profit bank account at First Citizens Bank has been established for anyone wishing to make a donation to the Willis Gupton Benefit.

Willis has entertained a lot of Franklin County folks over the years and raised a lot of money to help others. This is a chance to return some of those favors, eat well and be entertained.

Besides, giving back is the Franklin County way!

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Members Opinions:
February 27, 2020 at 6:40pm
Well said, Gary! Willis Gupton has given much to our community, and continues to do so. We should all pitch in to help him when he needs it.
Pete Andrews
Gold Sand
February 27, 2020 at 8:05pm
You would think that the news stations could at least do a decent job covering the weather. One station in particular seems to think that the weatherperson should walk briskly from screen to screen pointing out graphics that are illegible and irrelevant.

OTOH, reruns are by far the best thing on tv. Old westerns must be highly watched by older folks judging by the commercials for walk-in tubs, etc...

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