Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year, opportunity to focus on family, fitness and safety on the roadways

Mayor Bill Jenks, III
Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is somewhat of a distant memory, I would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a healthy, peaceful and happy New Year. There were far too many natural (Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath) and human tragedies that transpired both locally and nationally that made the holidays a little less jubilant than years’ past. But hopefully you were able to spend some quality time with your family, friends and neighbors during a time in our nation’s history that we can all reflect on what’s really important to ourselves, our families and our community.
 Spending more quality time with those that are close to us, and reaching out to neighbors and the community at large, would be a nice New Year’s resolution for anyone who is still considering finding one. I would also like to add to that resolution – a time to focus on fitness, wellness and health – elements that can and do lead to happiness and peace of mind. Fortunately here in Rolla we have an abundance of recreational and fitness options, including The Centre, a 63,000-square-foot indoor recreation complex, to spend time getting and staying fit. And, we also have over 13 miles of walking and biking trails (including mountain biking at Lions Club Park), numerous parks, and unlimited trails in the 1.5 million-acre Mark Twain National Forest. Whether you believe in climate change, or accept the reality that we live in an area of the country where the weather patterns are very erratic, the milder temperatures do seem to provide more outdoor recreational opportunities.
 And while we are on the topic of walking, biking, and outdoor activities, I would like to echo the comments of two of our Rolla City Council members, and some residents who recently addressed and rightly expressed concern over a serious problem we have at times in our community. I’m referring to the necessity for runners to use caution while they are out running, and for both runners and bikers to stay as near to the right side of the road as possible. The tendency for runners to run in the middle of the road at times is creating a dangerous situation not only for the runners, but also the motorists who are using the same roads, and trying to avoid an unfortunate and very preventable accident. In addition, pedestrians and bikers should refrain from using head phones and ear phones while using the roadways. Needless tragedies and accidents involving  motorists and bicyclists and motorists and pedestrians, can and should be prevented, and with a little awareness and desire to follow the proper rules and regulations, our community can be a much safer place to live, learn, work and play.
Motorists are also urged to please be mindful – at all times - of pedestrians walking across cross walks. It is a State and municipal law that motorists must stop and yield to pedestrians walking across a crosswalk. There continues to be, as we have seen for decades, a struggle for runners, walkers and motorists to look out for one another, follow the traffic laws and rules, and be cautious of situations where bikers are on the same roadways as motorists, and when walkers and runners use the roads to run/walk on. Bikers are similarly urged to follow the same rules as motorists on the road. This means stopping for stop signs and red lights (always); and yielding at yield signs (always), etc.
Much of Rolla is a bustling, vibrant university town filled with thousands of students going to and from classes every day, which makes pedestrian and vehicle safety all the more paramount, and an issue worth taking very seriously. By being watchful, mindful – and slowing down through school zones and areas where college students are walking and biking, safety can be achieved! Let’s start the New Year out in 2013 with a focus on being mindful of runners, bikers, pedestrians, and motorists, and staying safe throughout the year while we enjoy the numerous fitness and recreational opportunities we are blessed with in our community.
In closing, I would like to mention that the last day for filing for the City of Rolla’s 2013 General Municipal Election, which will be held on April 2, 2013, will continue through Jan. 15, 2013 (5 p.m.). The positions open for election this year include: one Council Representative for all six wards (two-year term). Persons wishing to file their candidacy for any of the above-listed positions may do so in the Rolla City Clerk’s Office at City Hall (901 North Elm Street). For more information, please call (573) 426-6942 or send an e-mail to Carol Daniels at Enjoy the weekend and have a safe week!

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