Columbia County was hit with an earthquake in January 2005. Then, the unthinkable happened when another earthquake shook the area this past week.
In spite of this massive threat to our health, safety and equilibrium, local officials are doing nothing to prevent these tremors - not even, at minimum, asking fat people to walk more softly. As a result, they have ignored the danger of the earth opening up and swallowing Evans like the last eclair at an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Something must be done. Building codes must be rewritten to California standards to minimize earthquake damage, even if it means adding thousands of dollars to the cost of every new home and business.
After all: No price is too high for the safety of our children, right?
Actually, yes it is - especially when the cost does nothing but make the adults feel like they've done something useful, even though safety isn't improved a bit.
Though it admittedly is over the top, the earthquake analogy comes to mind after the review of a request from the Blue Ridge Elementary School Council to the Columbia County Board of Education.
Spooked by a long November "lockdown" at the school, the council has asked the system to build brick walls flanking the school's exterior breezeways. The central office pretty quickly decreed brick and mortar would be too expensive; they suggested an alternative of either metal picket or chain-link fence to herd the kiddies between buildings and trap them like sitting ducks in the event of an outdoor shooting.
Somehow, the obvious, rational alternative wasn't offered: Do nothing.
At least School Board trustee Wayne Bridges saw some sense in that option. When the board was reviewing the request Tuesday, he called for a timeout on the discussion by pointing out that none of it would actually improve safety at the school.
All of this began last November when Columbia County deputies began searching for a fugitive. Blue Ridge, South Columbia Elementary, Lakeside middle and high, Augusta Christian and Martinez Montessori were locked down after a man ran away when deputies were called to nearby Shenandoah Ridge Apartments for an investigation.
So, why was this Fearsome Felon being sought? Murder? Child molestation? Armed robbery?
No. He was breaking into cars.
Now, it is entirely understandable that, during the protracted manhunt, schools would be locked down. No matter why someone is running from cops, you don't want him to duck into a school to hide - or potentially do something even more stupid, like taking a hostage.
But during the lockdown, with deputies swarming the area, Blue Ridge and other local schools were among the safest places in town. Furthermore, when the man was found, the deputies dispersed and the lockdown lapsed, the schools were still among the safest places to be.
The Blue Ridge council is right to be concerned about student safety. And they also are absolutely right to be upset that, during the ludicrously protracted lockdown in November, some of their children were confined in portables, away from the main building (and from lunch).
But just as it is far beyond the county's capabilities to prevent another earthquake (though, really, outlawing trampolines might help), it just isn't feasible to believe the schools will be any safer if they are turned into kiddie prison camps.
A false sense of security is still false.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.