Tag: OpEd

When the chainsaws stop

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Without the chainsaws roaring, the electrical trucks blocking the road and the safety vest-clad volunteers up the streets, Ninth Avenue almost looks like home again.


If you drive down the avenue, you’ll find yourself enwalled on either side by piles of debris: tree branches and trunks, roofing, random scraps of metal and the like. Then you’ll notice that most of the houses have white or blue roofs, and you’ll remember that they’re wrapped in plastic tarps. Finally, you’ll look up at the hillside and see houses you never knew existed and bare patches of mountain where trees used to be.

And you remember that it’s still home—just not the home that you grew up in.

For three weeks, Jacksonville looked like a war zone: police and volunteers from every part of the state, the Salvation Army and Samaritan’s Purse stationed in church parking lots, organizations handing out bottled water and hot meals to people who had nothing—some of whom still have nothing. It was like a Red Cross commercial that you didn’t sign up to be in.

And, the truth is, we can say “#JSUStrong” all day, but the people affected by this storm—the students, professors, and staff who lost everything, the community members who lost homes and precious belongings—are not going to be strong every day. Losing everything hurts. It’s stressful. You don’t know where to start because everything needs to be done at once, and one company is telling you that it will cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix your house, and that’s money you don’t have, but your insurance company won’t get back to you, and your kids have to go back to school, and the university needs you to come back to work, and you still can’t find your wedding album from 37 years ago, and you’re afraid it’s ruined.

So now we’re “back” to work and school, but not really because departments are scattered across town and in different cities, and we’re being told new things every day, and nothing makes sense because we can’t get a straight answer from anyone, and we’re trying to find a rental house and move what’s left of our home of 23 years and get ready for graduation and make time for friends we may never see again—and it’s hard.

And it’s okay to be mad about it.

I’m mad about it.

I’m mad about everything: that the tornado hit my house, that I can’t just worry about my family and my cats and my dogs without being pestered and told that I can’t take my grades, that I can’t choose which of my two majors I sit with at graduation, that just being in the house I grew up in makes my lungs hurt because there’s so much mold.

I’m mad that the chainsaws stopped.

Because I thought when the chainsaws stopped, we’d be back to normal.

But the truth is, we’re not. And we won’t be for a long time.

Don’t be bullied by the YEET YEET trucks

Alissa CamplinArts and Entertainment Editor

I have driven in a few major cities in the United States.

Atlanta.  Chicago. New Orleans.  Heck, I’ll even throw in Birmingham for funsies. I’ve driven in feet of snow, the heat of day, in partial Jacksonville monsoons, and even watched a tornado pass in front of my car on April 27, 2011 when I was on my way to Illinois for a family party.

I can successfully say that I NEVER have I seen worse drivers than in Jacksonville.

Listen, I understand defensive driving.  

I get that you have to get out of the long line that forms in Gamecock Village’s driveway 15 minutes before class, and sometimes that means cutting people traveling 201 off.  It’s fine. They’ll live…right?

I know your frustration trying to turn onto Trustee Circle by the library and not being able to go on your green arrow due to the car in front of you going straight because they’re going to Dollar General.

I know that there are stop signs ignored all the time (Looking at you, Mountain Street intersection past 10:30 at night) and I totally agree with the rest of the population of Jacksonville that the speed limit on Pelham should be at least 45, not 25.  

Those are my complaints on an average day.

When there is questionable weather, however, the drivers around this town earn a whole new set of complaints that make me wonder how any of them actually earned a license.

Harsh weather is scary, especially when the lights on the back half of town are the first to go out and the lights on the other side begin to blink.

That’s the part I understand.  The part I have problems with is how everyone seems to ignore basic driving school 101 when it comes to these situations.

But, reader, you may ask, what’s all the complaining about? What’s the problem?

Because ya’ll little buttheads need to realize that you SHARE the road and that the decisions you make behind the wheel matter.  

A few weeks ago, Mountain Street got wrecked by straight-line winds.  It was serious and it was scary for a few minutes. I ended up driving home from class in the middle of it.  No biggie, I’ve done worse. Just slow and steady. Just get home.

I approach the 4-way to go home and stop because the light is flashing red (For those who have forgotten, a flashing red light turns that intersection into a 4-way stop).

Next thing I know, the little country bumpkin that was behind me in his big YEET YEET truck is zooming past me, yelling at me because I was had apparently disrupted his driving flow.  But in the midst of his temper tantrum, he cut off the people in the lane beside me and zoomed around my car to turn in front of me.

Listen, guys.  I drive a Veloster.  For those unfamiliar, it’s a little hatch-back sportsy thing with three doors.  I will not be bullied by YEET YEET trucks (You know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that were in senior pictures and the cover photos of their FaceBook accounts. Yeah, those). I chased that man into the parking lot of the coliseum and let him HAVE IT.  Not my finest moment, but that’s not the point.

All in all, know your rules.  Don’t be the guy that makes me write an entire oped because Spongebob could drive better than you can.

Stay safe out there, friends.  And don’t let big YEET YEET trucks boss you around.  

Man, where’s the Sunkist?

By Chris Allen Brown/Associate Editor

I’m not really one to complain — a lot — but I need my daily supply of Sunkist. There’s only one thing a guy wants after a long, eight-hour work day and that’s an iced-cold … orange soda.

(You thought I was going to say an adult beverage, didn’t you?)

But no, I have to settle to an expired Minute Maid Fruit Punch.

Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great drink choice, too, but not if the expiration date reads “FEB2618.” But today’s date is “MAR1218” and there were things floating atop my drink after one gulp.

Maybe it was the “real fruit juice” that Coca-Cola says is in Minute Maid. Maybe it was something that started to grow inside the bottle because it was an expired drink. I don’t know, but I guess we’ll find out if my byline isn’t in The Chanticleer in two weeks

(Hello, Spring Break next week!)

Anyways, for those who don’t know, Sunkist is a Buffalo Rock product, which Jacksonville State had a 10-year relationship with prior to giving Coca-Cola vending rights in late 2017. So, since August 2017, there have been no Sunkist bottles in a vending machine around campus.

Speaking of which, my first memory as a JSU student resulted because of a bottle of Sunkist.

I was walking to Martin Hall for a freshman-level Biology class in the Spring of 2012. I was thirsty, because I had to walk a far distance — parking, right — and came across a vending machine with Sunkist. I thought, ‘Man, this is perfect. I hope JSU always has Sunkist. I’d enjoy this place so much.’

I inserted my dollar and change then waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.

No bottle rolled out. I wasn’t happy.

From then on, I only attempted to get Sunkist at the café following JSU’s weekly football conference on Mondays. However, that changed when I declared as a Communication major and came to Self Hall on a weekly basis. And a weekly basis I bought a Sunkist from the only reliable vending machine on campus.

Me and Sunkist went together like Eli Jenkins and Josh Barge scoring touchdowns on Burgess-Snow Field. Or Whitney Gillespie and strikeouts at University Field. Or Trent Simpson and smashing home runs out of Choccolocco Park.

So, you can understand the heartbreak the first time I went to the vending machine in Self Hall and there were only Coke products. You can feel the pain and agony as I write this and glance down at this red liquid to my right where a Sunkist should be.

Man, I hope my future bride is OK with having a Sunkist foundation at our wedding. That’ll be … delightful.




The kids aren’t all bad

Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Yes, I have an opinion on gun laws. No, that’s not what this op-ed is about. Because no matter what I say, people will get mad. I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, because that’s not my job. But I am going to talk about what I see happening right now in this country.

I was three-years-old when the Columbine shooting happened, and, growing up, just the phrase “Columbine” was bone-chilling. And I don’t remember talking about it. It was scary, the idea that I might have to hide under a desk and just hope and pray that I wouldn’t be shot and killed at school. It was a long shot in Jacksonville, Ala., of course, but that made it scarier—everyone thought it was a “long shot” in their hometown, too.

And now it’s 2018, and I’ve seen Sandy Hook where 20 children were killed—first graders. And I’ve seen Aurora, Colo. where people of all ages were killed in a movie theater—including a six-year-old. I’ve seen the Pulse nightclub shooting where 49 people were killed—because of their sexual orientation. And now, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., shooting where 15 teenage students were killed, I’m seeing more and more “close calls” and smaller attacks, like the one at a day care in Oxford where a man threatened workers with a gun. I had a conversation where my roommate and I had to stop and say, “Which school shooting are you talking about?” And those are words that I never, ever thought I’d have to say.

But here we are.

And the difference between the Parkland shooting and everything else? The students who survived are not staying silent. Emma Gonzalez has more Twitter followers than the NRA. Students across the country are organizing walkouts and protests. Schools are trying to retaliate. The government is only half-listening. But these kids are fierce. They won’t stop.

Because these are the kids who were told that they could grow up and be anything. They were raised on “Harry Potter” and “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent” and young adult literature that said, “You don’t have to take this. You can be something bigger than yourself. You can make a difference.”

That’s a lot to put on a child: “Go save the world.” But it’s given an entire generation incredible power. These “kids” are kids, yes, but they are so much more than that, because they’ve had to be. Because they have sat back and watched classmates die for far too long, and now they won’t let it happen again. Because that’s what Harry, Ron and Hermione did. That’s what Katniss and Peeta did. That’s what Tris and Tobias did. None of them asked for the life they lived, and neither did these students. None of the fictional characters they’ve grown up reading wanted to play the hero, but they did because no one else would. And that’s where these students are now.

Gone are the days of damsels in distress.

They’re going to save themselves.

So, do we help them do it, like McGonagall did? Like Haymitch did? Like Evelyn did? Or do we sit back and watch like Umbridge did? Like President Snow did? Like Jeanine Matthews did?

We better decide, because these kids are changing the world, with or without us.

Which side of history are we going to be on?

Please stop releasing balloons

*Warning: the following article contains sensitive pictures that may upset some readers.*

 Katie Cline, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, hundreds of well-meaning groups and organizations across the nation use balloon releases to honor lost loved ones, celebrate survivors and announce funds that have been raised. But sometimes these “well-meaning” gestures overshadow the bigger issue: balloons are bad for the environment, and our “celebrations” often damage an already fragile ecosystem. Why do we, a college of forward-thinking young adults, still let this happen?

The cheap, latex balloons usually used for these releases are not biodegradable, meaning that after they float out of sight, they come back down to Earth…and stay there. Often times, they get washed into rivers, lakes, ponds and oceans, and they can seriously harm or kill native wildlife, particularly turtles and sea birds.

A seagull hangs from a telephone wire after getting tangled in a balloon string (photo by Pamela Denmon,U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services().

One of a sea turtle’s food sources is jellyfish, and, to a turtle, balloons floating on the surface look like jellyfish. If a turtle eats one of these balloons, it can get stuck in its throat and keep the turtle from eating, causing it to slowly starve to death.

A dead Kemp’s-Ridley’s sea turtle lies on a beach after choking on a balloon (photo via the USFWS Eastern Shore of VA and Fisherman Island NWR).

For birds, the danger comes while the balloons are still in the air. Sea birds like gulls and pelicans can get tangled in balloon strings while flying, and those strings can get tangled in trees or power lines and essentially hang the bird.

A seabird lies dead after its neck became entangled in the string of a balloon (photo via the Virginia Aquarium Stranding Response Program).

It’s true that Jacksonville is miles from the nearest beach, but we still have local lakes and creeks that attract water fowl. We still have fish and turtles that could eat a stray balloon. And distance doesn’t always limit impact. It’s like they say in “Finding Nemo”: “All drains [and, in this case, streams] lead to the ocean.” It’s not impossible for a balloon released in Jacksonville, Ala. to end up in the Gulf of Mexico.

I am the daughter of a biologist. I’ve lived my entire life knowing the dangers plastics and pollutants to the environment. It’s something that’s always on my mind. So it hurts me to see people disregard the impact they have on the environment for the sake of cute pictures. Surely there are better ways to make your point known. How much good are you really doing if you support a charity but harm the environment? And it especially makes me sad to see this kind of disregard and apathy on a college campus, where we’re supposed to be learning and growing and making the world a better place.

Milestones deserve acknowledgement. Life deserves celebrating. Accomplishments deserve recognition. But all of these amazing things are dulled by the unnecessary disrespect shown to the environment. So, could we please come up with a better way?

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, things aren’t going to get better. They’re not.” – Dr. Suess, The Lorax