Dothan Eagle. September 1, 2021.

Editorial: Wrongheaded

Chip Brown, an Alabama lawmaker from Mobile, just doesn’t get it. Alabama is among the states where the majority of people haven’t gotten the coronavirus vaccine, where greater than 90 percent of COVID-19 patients on ventilators are unvaccinated, and where there are no available ICU beds for incoming patients with life-threatening COVID infections or any other malady.

New cases and deaths are on the upswing, yet only one in three school systems across the state have made facial masks mandatory for students and staff.

Brown might’ve taken an initiative to err on the side of prudence, perhaps filing legislation that would mandate masks in all public schools, and/or require all adult staff and faculty to be vaccinated. Such a move might mitigate the spread of the virus and its variants.

Instead, Brown pre-filed legislation that undermines the efforts of the state’s public health officials by giving parents of students attending mandatory masking schools a mechanism to opt out, and their children into a potential petri dish without a face mask, increasing the potential of their infection, or of their infecting others.

“To me it’s a parental rights bill,” Brown told al.com. “By mandating something on children, we’re basically telling the parents their supervision of their children doesn’t matter. So, I think it goes back to who’s raising the child. And I think in the end, parents should have the right to opt out, if they want to opt out.”

Here’s another perspective: Alabama law (Title 16, Section 28) requires that youngsters between the ages of six and 17 attend school. Should the state abdicate its responsibility to provide a safe and healthy environment for the students it demands attend school?

Rep. Brown would better serve the people of Alabama by working to defeat the coronavirus pandemic rather than pander to those who may doubt its threat, severity, or even its existence.

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Decatur Daily. September 2, 2021.

Editorial: Utility workers deserve our thanks

The Issue

The workers who restore electrical service after storms have a dangerous job and deserve our thanks.

No one likes to be left without electricity. But whether due to storms, the occasional vehicle vs. a power pole accident, or the inevitable wear and tear on equipment, power outages are a fact of life.

That’s when we’re all dependent on the utility crews who must venture out at all hours and in all manner of weather so the rest of us can be comfortable in our homes and productive in our offices.

It’s a sometimes thankless job. It’s also sometimes a dangerous one.

Two electric company employees contracted by Alabama Power died just before noon Tuesday in Jefferson County while working to restore power lost by storms spinning off the remnants of Hurricane Ida.

According to WTVM-TV, the two linemen, both 19 years old, were electrocuted while working in Adger, about 23 miles southwest of Birmingham.

According to T&D World, a trade publication of the power transmission and distribution industry, line workers are in the top 10 most dangerous professions, based on annual fatalities.

It’s not just the risk of electrocution. Electrical utility workers are also at risk for falls and traffic collisions.

Yet the demand for line workers has probably never been greater, which is why Calhoun Community College began it’s pre-apprentice lineworker school. After seven weeks of training, graduates enter a registered apprentice program with their employer.

Linemen never know when they’ll be called on, especially when spring storms are involved. A sudden microburst in June snapped power poles along Point Mallard Parkway, leaving roughly 1,600 Decatur Utilities customers without power and leading the City Council to declare a state of emergency. DU employees and contractors worked from the afternoon and into the night restoring electricity.

They’re also on call to render mutual aid in times of natural disasters. Before Hurricane Ida made landfall, local line workers were on standby to head south if called on.

Utility workers earn our respect and thanks every day, just by being on call. As unpredictable as the weather is in north Alabama, we never know when we’ll need them.

END

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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