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Honeybee Festival a big success

LaFayette's inaugural Honeybee Festival proved to be a huge success as massive numbers of residents and visitors flocked to the downtown area for a day of live music, crafts, vendors and fun. Officials estimate more than 10,000 people turned out for the event.

Something could be found to entertain everyone at the free event that many considered being the biggest outdoor turnout for the city since the Johnny Cash performance in August 1970.

Local musicians such as The ExLaws, Lon Eldridge, Al Smith, Back Road Band, Small Town Rumor, Common Ground, Channing Wilson and Robby Hopkins took to two stages on the north and south ends of the festival.

The Sons of Sailors and Steppin Stones took to the main stage for great performances.

Country music star and Honeybee Festival headliner Craig Morgan performed in front of one of the largest crowds downtown LaFayette has ever seen.

Morgan performed his hits and was welcomed into the city with open arms. A baking and barbecue competition gave festival-goers plenty to devour as well as the numerous other vendors who brought out some delicious festive treats to feast upon.

More than 115 vendors took part in the festival that varied from crafts, jewelry, Honeybee themed shirts and attire, personalized belts and toys for the kids.

The Kids Zone had inflatable's for kids as well as face painting and other kid-friendly games.

Honeybee experts set up educational booths to educate the public on the various themes regarding the importance to the honeybee in nature as well as eco-friendly gardening tips and

education on the numerous resources found in forests.

The city of LaFayette plans to make the Honeybee Festival an annual free event for all residents and visitors to the city and if this past Saturday proves anything, the Honeybee Festival is here to stay.

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Report: Fatality rate high for teens

New teen drivers, ages 16-17, are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This alarming finding comes as the "100 Deadliest Days" begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period. Georgia has seen 112 fatalities involving a teen driver so far this year according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

"During the summer months we see more teens on our roadways,

likely due to the excitement surrounding no school and more time to spend with friends," said Garrett Townsend, GA Public Affairs Director, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "The Foundation's research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road create a deadly combination for teen drivers."

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's latest study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:

• 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash

• 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash

• 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash

• 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash

Fatal teen crashes are on the rise. Nationwide, the number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.

"Parents are the front line of defense in keeping our roads safer this summer," said Matt Nasworthy, Traffic Safety Consultant for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good driving behaviors like staying off the phone and always buckling up."

Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:

• Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.

• Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.

• Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.

To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

• Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.

• Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.

• Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen's overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers membership discounts for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency.


"Hands Across the Border" has new dates and mission

The 26th annual "Hands Across the Border" week-long traffic enforcement operation kicked off on Monday, June 5 with Georgia joining their fellow law enforcement officers in Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee to conduct joint roadchecks in their respective states.

State and local law enforcement officers in all five states will work simultaneously to take drunken and drugged drivers off the roads as well as issuing citations for speeding, distracted driving, unbuckled motorists and other traffic violations.

"It is a time for us to get together with our friends from neighboring states and it is really, really important this year with the high number of fatalities we have had in Georgia and across the nation last year," Harris Blackwood, Director of the Governor's Office of Highway said. "We believe that working together we can hold down the number of fatalities and injuries across Georgia and the southeast during this early part of the summer going through Labor Day."

"Hands Across the Border" started in 1991 as a friendly wager between the Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol to see which agency could limit the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in their state during the Labor Day travel period.

Within ten years, the effort grew to all states bordering Georgia holding joint roadchecks at their state lines on the week before Labor Day with the goal of taking impaired drivers off the roads prior to the final summer holiday travel period of the year.

This year, Georgia and its neighboring law enforcement partners believe they can expand their safety message by moving "Hands Across the Border" to the start of the summer travel season, and mirror the annual "100 Days of Summer H.E.A.T." enforcement operation where state and local law enforcement officers will be issuing citations to drivers who are speeding, distracted, not wearing seat belts and have committed other traffic violations.

"Our number one goal is to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes," Roger Hayes, G.O.H.S. Law Enforcement Services Director said. "People in Georgia will be traveling to our neighboring states and vice versa, and no matter where they are driving, we want them to slow down, buckle up and never drink and drive."

The number of traffic deaths in Georgia has increased in each of the last two years. There were 1,432 people killed in traffic crashes in the state in 2015, which was a 23 percent increase from the previous year.

While the final crash statistics from 2016 will be released later this year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, preliminary numbers from the Georgia Department of Transportation stand at 1,561 traffic deaths in the state last year.

"'Hands Across the Border' sends a message to the motoring public that there is an urgent effort to slow people down, to get drunk drivers off the road, to end texting and driving and other distractions and to make sure everyone is wearing that seat belt, " Director Blackwood said. "Our friends in our neighboring states are just as committed as we are to make the roads safe to drive this summer and all year."

"Hands Across the Border" began on Monday, June 5 with roadchecks at the Georgia/Tennessee line in Ringgold followed by stops at the Alabama state line in Columbus, Florida state line in Valdosta and Kingsland and the South Carolina state line in Savannah. This year's enforcement initiative runs through Friday night, June 9.

"Our number one goal is to reduce fatalities and serious injury crashes."

-- Roger Hayes, G.O.H.S. Law Enforcement Services director


Cracking down on perpetual yard sales

Walker County plans to crack down on yard salers and flea marketers who leave their merchandise outside and overnight for more than four days at a time.

The county is changing its zoning law to require that merchandise must be stored inside approved — enclosed and secure — structures from dusk until dawn.

However, this change does not include four-day-or-less annual yard sale events.

Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said, on April 20, that the Planning and Zoning Board submitted a recommendation to have the verbiage changed, so the ordinance would require the outdoor merchandise to be enclosed in secured structures.

The matter was discussed during the commissioner's meeting on May 25 and determined to be a matter of codes enforcement.

"So, what this is doing is addressing that if someone has a full-time, outdoor flea market, that they will have to bring those items in at dusk and bring them back out at daylight, so they can have these items secured," Whitfield said.

Whitfield said this is aimed at flea markets that operate on a full time basis.

One concerned citizen brought up the flea market near Rusty's Meat Market

in Rossville on LaFayette Road and asked if this would be a code enforcement requirement, to which Whitfield said, yes.

"They would be given a citation warning first and then—most likely on the second offense—then they would be fined," Whitfield said.

Codes enforcement wants to do away with year long yard sales on properties where the merchandise is left in the front yards of residential neighborhoods where the items are left out year round.

The concerned citizen said there is a distinct difference in a private, residential yard sale and a "full blown" flea market that is on a main thoroughfare.

Whitfield said this still allows someone having a long weekend yard sale to leave their items out temporarily, but said there are situations throughout the county where people leave their merchandise out 365-days per year and the county has received numerous complaints over the issue.

The matter has to have a third hearing over the issue and public input and discussion will be allowed at the next commissioner's meeting.