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Monday, March 06, 2006

Bland County Man Injured in Logging Mishap

I learned the hard way that cutting down trees can be a dangerous endeavor. I've been known in recent years to make a cut, stop, check my anticipated trajectory, cut some more, stop, check my angles, etc. Because I never wanted this to happen:
Bland County man airlifted from remote Tazewell logging site
By Charles Owens, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

SPRINGVILLE, Va. — A Bland County man was airlifted Friday from the scene of a logging accident in Tazewell County with multiple injuries, officials said.

The accident was reported at a logging operation in Wright’s Valley, near Springville, Tommy Carroll, administrator of the Bluefield, Va. Rescue Squad, said.

Carroll said a 33-year-old man was airlifted from the scene of the accident by Med-Flight to Bristol Regional Medical Center with multiple fractures to his lower left leg.

“The subject was up in the mountain,” Carroll said. “There was no road leading to it. They were up there doing some logging on Wright’s Mountain Road near Springville. They were cutting trees. It was a pretty big tree. It looked like it kicked back on him. He wasn’t trapped under anything, it was just where it hit him. He had a crew with him. As soon as it happened, they called 911.” (link)
I remember being up in a tree once a number of years ago trimming branches with a chainsaw. When I cut through one rather large limb and it gave way, the saw lurched downward and ended up cutting into my jeans just above the knee before I was able to draw it back.

That'll give you a whole new outlook on chainsaw safety - and grow you a few points of IQ at the same time.

The name of the injured logger has not yet been released.

That's Not Just A Gap, Fellas

To put it mildly:
Gaps Appear in State, Federal Test Scores
By Ben Feller, AP Education Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) -- In Mississippi, 89 percent of fourth-graders who took a state reading test were rated proficient or better. But when the same students took a federal test, only 18 percent reached that standard. (link)
A state test scores students at 89%; a national test puts them at 18%. Is there a different language spoken in Mississippi or what is going on here?

Fire Destroys Home of Civil War Giant

Oliver O Howard is best known in Civil War history as the commander of the ill-fated U.S. Eleventh Corps that was annihilated at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, 1862 and, almost two months later, was routed on the first day's fighting at the Battle of Gettysburg. Despite the ignominy, Howard went on to become one of William Tecumseh Sherman's closest lieutenants and gained back some of his tarnished reputation participating in the latter's 1864 Atlanta campaign and subsequent "March to the Sea."

Oliver Howard made the news again today:
Fire Destroys Home of Civil War Hero

LEEDS, Maine (AP) -- A wind-whipped fire destroyed a farmhouse in which Civil War general and Howard University founder Oliver Otis Howard once lived.

The house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived Friday morning. Firefighters said it took about five hours to douse the flames that also destroyed a barn and started a 10-acre brush fire.

Howard, an abolitionist, was born and raised in the 18th-century house before he attended and taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He commanded Union troops during the Civil War and went on to found Howard University in Washington, D.C. (link)

Howard's career is one of the most prominent enigmas that arise when one begins to study the Civil War and the characters that played key roles in it. Despite his disastrous - and glaring - leadership shortcomings evinced in two of the war's most critical battles, errors in judgement the likes of which ruined the careers of many another general officer on both sides, Howard remained at the top of the union hierarchy throughout the conflict (some say because of his political clout in abolitionist circles).

The loss of his home to fire is sad news.

What Am I Missing?

I eagerly ran to the latest installment of the Virginia Blog Carnival this morning over at ImNotEmeril and was rather surprised to find an entry that took the opposite view from mine with regard to those annoying HOV lanes up around Washington DC. While I take the position that the HOV lanes are underutilized and should be discontinued, Jay Hughes at Too Conservative believes the state of Virginia should expand them.

His explanation is as follows:

While not a 100% perfect solution, HOV extension is a very, very good solution for a number of reasons.

  • First, because the HOV lanes would be built on the I-95 median strip, the land is already publicly owned. So, there would be no need for potentially painful, expensive and lengthy eminent domain takings. In areas where the median is too thin, we could easily shift existing conventional lanes.
  • Second, because the HOV lanes encourage car-pooling, the concerns of reasonable environmental organizations can be addressed due to car-pooling’s positive impact on the environment and fuel conservation.
  • Third, median construction would minimize impact on existing lanes.
  • Fourth, because we are only adding a small number of lanes and exit ramps, costs would be minimized. If HOV extension proves inadequate, we can always go back and add more conventional lanes to either side of I-95.
  • Fifth, by extending HOV lanes down to the I-295 interchange we can keep those non-commuting travelers moving past the northern Virginia area to the southern destinations.
As I read this, three of the five reasons have simply to do with growing the number of lanes on the interstate, which everyone agrees will have to happen. The bit about car-pooling, a tired and now disproved theory (HOV lanes have not brought about any appreciable change in the driving habits of commuters in the area and were never touted as targeting non-commuters) and the political advantages brought about by addressing the concerns of environmentalists seems to me to be a rather specious argument. Who talks any more about environmental concerns when debating traffic-flow problems in the DC suburbs? Everyone knows the interstate system needs to expand - and it will, regardless of objections raised by tree huggers in the area.

I think Jay and I - and the entire western world - agree that the highway system around DC needs to expand. The rest of Jay's post is well-reasoned and provides some excellent food for thought with regard to solving the area's woeful traffic congestion problem.

But expanding the number or length of those infamous HOV lanes will do nothing to solve the problem.