Persistence pays when dealing with the government

The government will never respond to pleas for help from a private citizen.

Such is the belief of those members of the public who when they see a problem tend to throw up their hands in resignation and learn to live with the problem, hoping someday someone in government will see what needs to be corrected and correct it.

James Jones Jr., a retired State Highway Patrol master trooper and Saddletree resident, is not such a person. And he has proven that if you are loud enough for long enough someone in a position of authority will hear you and address the problem in question.

Jones has lived near the intersection of McQueen and Rennert roads since 1973. During that time he has, as he put it, “seen plenty of accidents there.” Sadly, some of those accidents were fatal.

This situation had not gone unnoticed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and the department has taken action over the years to make the intersection and its approaches safer.

But, Jones wanted more to be done. So he petitioned, questioned and cajoled until he got the NCDOT’s attention. Jones has been told the NCDOT plans to install stop signs at all four entrances to the intersection. Once that is done, a motorist will no longer be able to approach the intersection from any direction thinking he or she can just race through it.

And, with luck, fewer people — better yet, none — will die at the intersection in the future.

“But, that’s one example, and it could take years for the fix to be made,” one could say.

True on both counts. The NCDOT has not set a date for placing the new stop signs at the McQueen and Rennert roads intersection. But, at least a voice from Saddletree got a government department to listen and act.

How about another example.

During the Jan. 4 Robeson County Board of Commissioners meeting, the commissioners approved a resolution to mitigate drainage in the Brittswood area in Lumberton.

“Big deal!” the cynical watcher of local governance might say.

Maybe. Maybe not. What makes this interesting is the fact that the mitigation will be paid for using community development funds controlled by the commissioner in whose district Brittswood is located.

And one must not dismiss the possibility that the mitigation probably wouldn’t be happening at all if Brittswood residents hadn’t lobbied their commissioner and county government, loudly and at length, for help. And if this is the case, and we probably can safely assume it is the case, the campaign for assistance was successful enough to get their commissioner to surrender to the cause money from a fund typically used by commissioners to support favored projects and organizations, and to pay for activities such as community barbecues and celebrations.

The main point to this editorial exercise is the people still have the power to get elected leaders and government agencies to act on their behalf. Yes, it can take effort and time. Remember, in regards to governmental agencies we are dealing with entities some of which have a maddening number of bureaucratic layers. And with elected officials, it depends on the politician and with how much bureaucracy he or she has to contend.

But, it can be done. One need only be dedicated enough and loud enough to get someone to listen, and to act.