I grew up in Decatur, just a stone’s throw from Atlanta, so of course, I watched the Atlanta TV stations growing up. I watched my favorite programs on them, and also got the majority of my news from them.
I’ve also discovered I like small towns, so pretty much all of my adult life, I’ve been moving farther and farther away from Atlanta. I started out in Decatur, moved to Lithonia, then McDonough, then Jackson, then back to McDonough, then to Locust Grove, and now to Thomaston.
But through all the moves, I’ve continued to watch the Atlanta TV stations. Of course, with cable and satellite TV, I now have a lot more channels to choose from. And, seeing as how I make my living in newspapers, I read a lot more news and watch less on TV. But I still catch the occasional weeknight news broadcast.
And I have a few gripes with the way the Atlanta stations cover news. My main gripe is that, for the most part, they seem to think that bad weather only happens north of I-20. Tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods could be bearing down on those of us south of the perimeter, but if you turn on the TV, all you’ll see are weather alerts for areas west, north and east of downtown Atlanta. Occasionally we’ll get mentioned, but you have to stay glued to the screen, else you’ll miss it.
My second biggest gripe lately has been their coverage of the upcoming Transportation Investment Act vote, or the TSPLOST vote, as it is also known, that is coming up on July 31. If you listen and watch the Atlanta stations, they all make it sound like this is a statewide vote on a transportation sales tax, but only Atlanta is going to benefit from it. Nothing could be further from the truth, but you won’t hear it from them.
The 10-year, 1 percent transportation sales tax will be voted on all across the state on July 31, but the state has been divided in 12 regional commissions, and how the counties in each of these regions vote will determine if the TSPLOST is enacted in those counties. For example, the metro Atlanta area is in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), while Upson County is part of the Three Rivers Regional Commission (TRRC). TSPLOST could fail in the ARC, and still pass in the TRRC. If that happens, the 10 counties in TRRC, including Upson County, will add the 1 percent sales tax for 10 years and reap the revenue it brings in.
Locally, that means an estimated $48.7 million for Upson County and its municipalities. That is more money for us than what we would bring in on our own with a penny sales tax, because the total amount of sales tax is divided among the 10 counties. So we would actually be getting tax revenue from some of the bigger counties like Carroll and Coweta. How’s that for letting someone else pay our way?
Of that $48.7 million, a steering committee for TRRC, on which Commission Chairman Maurice Raines and Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold both participated, decided that $32.5 million would be spent to start widening Highway 36 from I-75 to Thomaston, in the hopes that the improved highway will bring new industry and jobs to the area.
The remaining $16.2 million will be split between the county, Thomaston and Yatesville, for their own road projects. Upson County would receive $13.4 million, Thomaston would receive $2.6 million, and Yatesville would receive $196,768, all over a 10-year period. Not bad considering a large portion of that money will be coming from the other counties in the TRRC.
It is not a bad deal for Upson County, but if you watch the Atlanta TV stations, you won’t hear that. Instead, you’ll hear all the doom and gloom naysayers complaining that Atlanta will be the only area benefitting from the TSPLOST. Don’t believe them. We are not part of Atlanta and the TSPLOST will benefit us.