April 4, 2019

Wingate Lassiter

Tim Broome's place in history: delivering one of life's essentials

I first saw Tim Broome in action back in the mid-1970s when I started covering monthly meetings of Johnston's County Commissioners for The Smithfield Herald. He was a young engineer employed by Ragsdale Engineers of Smithfield, and County Government was moving big time into the water-line business.

In those days, the only major incentive at local government's disposal in recruiting new industry was to provide access to treated public water. That's what the County Commissioners did to secure big-name employers like Cutter Labs at Clayton (today's Grifols plant), E.R. Squibb at Kenly (closed by merger many years ago), Chicopee at Benson (known today as Polymer Group), and others in between.

Ragsdale Engineers, led by Tom Moore (who later served as a commissioner), was the "go to" company when the county needed plans to put those pipes in place to link those outlying industrial plants with Smithfield's water plant (the only provider in Johnston at the time). More often than not, Tim Broome was the bright young man who presented those designs to the County Commissioners, and he did it in a way all us non-engineers could understand. It was fascinating stuff for this up-and-coming newspaper reporter.

Fast forward to the late 1980s and early 1990s, when County Government under the leadership of Commissioners' Chairman Norman Denning organized rural communities as customer-funded districts to build pipelines connecting to the system that grew out of those earlier industrial projects. Rural folks jumped at the opportunity to hook onto a public water supply and abandon their unreliable, and sometimes contaminated, individual groundwater wells.

As County Manager Rick Hester recalled this week, Tim Broome was a big part of the engineering work that built those rural connections. Mr. Hester should know, for as assistant county manager at the time one of his major assignments was to help organize those rural water districts. "Tim Broome wast the backbone of that system," Mr. Hester said Monday as the County Commissioners named the county's water-treatment plant near Wilson's Mills in memory of Tim Broome.

A fitting thing that is to cement his legacy.

Raising speed limits: what's the point?

I read this week that the N.C. Department of Transportation has raised the posted speed limit on a section of Highway 70 between Clayton and Princeton from 55 mph to 60. Now that the highway west of Clayton and east of Princeton has 70-mph zones, guess they figure folks aren't going to slow down that much anyway so why not let them speed through Johnston only 10 or 15 mph above the posted limit rather than 15 or 20.

The way folks are driving these days, NCDOT and departments in other states, too, might as well take down all the speed-limit signs and save the expense of maintenance and replacement.

I saw an editorial cartoon some years ago with a sign that read "SPEED LIMIT 55" followed by a tag line "Just A Suggestion."  Funny? Not really. I think it's another sad piece of commentary on our times.


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