Here’s another installment in my occasional good-news, bad-news series of columns.
Let’s start with some bad news: Railroad company CSX won’t build its cargo container hub in Johnston County. That means Johnston County won’t get the tax base and high-paying jobs that the Carolina Connector promises.
The good news: CSX will build the container hub 50 miles north of Johnston County in Edgecombe County, near Rocky Mount.
I say good news, but truth be told, I don’t know that. I’m going on what everyone else says about the hub. And by everyone, I mean the governor, his commerce department, Johnston County’s economic-development director, his bosses on the Johnston County Board of Commissioners, the folks in Rocky Mount. All are convinced that the hub will attract companies that want to benefit from efficient shipping.
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Their argument has some precedent. Already, Johnston County’s good roads – U.S. 70 and Interstates 40 and 95 – have lured the likes of food distributor Sysco and medical-device maker and distributor Becton Dickinson. So it’s not unreasonable to think that companies seeking shipping by rail will descend on Edgecombe and surrounding counties.
But that won’t be good news until it happens. Until then, CSX’s decision to snub the county that spurned it is decidedly bad news.
Some good news, at least for me: I’ve started walking again after a long lull that proved detrimental to my waistline and, likely, more important parts of my anatomy. My goal is the 10,000 steps a day that “they,” the experts, whoever they are, say we should all get. And I have met or exceeded that goal every day since July 7.
The bad news is that Johnston County, especially in the heat of summer, isn’t walker friendly outdoors. So I go a lot to the Johnston Medical Mall in Smithfield. It has the benefit of having wooden floors, which are good on my 55-year-old knees, and just as important, it’s air-conditioned.
But because I have a day job, I can’t simply ride over to the Medical Mall whenever I want to get in a few steps. So mostly this summer when I want to get in a few steps, I walk in my office, at least when I’m in Smithfield. Yes, I turn around a lot because the building, from front door to back door, isn’t all that long, but like the Medical Mall, it has a wooden floor and air conditioning.
When the weather cools this fall, I’ll take to Smithfield’s ample sidewalks. And he good news is that in Smithfield, it’s possible to walk several different one-mile routes without having to walk on a street. But here’s a note – and request – to Smithfield: Many of your sidewalks, especially in residential neighborhoods, are in need of repair. At the Medical Mall, it’s possible to walk while looking straight ahead. Do that on a Smithfield sidewalk and you could sprain an ankle or worse.
Some days I work in our Clayton office, and frankly, I would just feel stupid walking there, because it’s one hallway is short; my coworkers might think me crazy, if they don’t already. So the other day in Clayton, I took to the sidewalks, which proved disappointing, at least on this walk.
I made my way around Town Square on sidewalk that was in good shape, but when I ventured into the residential neighborhood south of Town Square, I soon ran out of sidewalk and found myself walking in the street. That wasn’t safe, and rightly or wrongly, I felt less safe, broadly speaking, walking in a neighborhood without sidewalks. Safe neighborhoods have sidewalks, right?
Oddly enough, the Town of Clayton, in most cases, requires sidewalks in new subdivisions. As a walker, I wish it required the same of its older neighborhoods.