• 66°

John Butero a good man; crosswalk woes

He was a good man.

How could any one of us want anything more to be said after we’re gone. In fact, it’s said a lot, maybe too much, often leaving many at the funeral rolling their eyes.

The eyes won’t be rolling Wednesday when John Butero is laid to rest. He truly was a good man. A good Christian. A good family man. A good co-worker. A good friend.

I’ve heard that nothing good comes from New York City. That’s wrong. John Butero came from New York.

Most of us with any age remember him as Johnny Roberts, the WDSL radio personality. I guess he thought the name Butero may have given us southerners reason to be cautious, but there was no need. He helped many young people learn the ropes of radio, and provided the community with plenty of news and other information. Yes, people really did used to listen to the radio to get news – real news – not talking heads – and to find bargains people would call in, kind of like an on-air county-wide yard sale. And Johnny Roberts was there, with his clear and easy to understand voice.

He was also a telecommunicator, a 911 operator. He was good at it, too, liked and respected by co-workers and the emergency community.

And believe it or not, I don’t think I’ve ever talked to the man when he didn’t smile, a heart-warming, from-the-heart kind of smile that made you instantly know it was genuine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photograph of John Butero when he wasn’t smiling. As his health declined in recent months, he was still bringing (nearer the end, a telephone call) in news for his church (with a smile) to be printed in the newspaper. That was important to him.

A role model? For everyone.

John Butero was a good man.

•••

Another accident at a Mocksville crosswalk Nov. 22 has folks talking – and for good reason. After a fatal accident last April, nothing has been done to make the situation better. Sure, the N.C. Department of Transportation came up with a plan to move the crosswalks nearer the square, with curb cut-outs to make them more noticeable to motorists. We’ll wait to see if that is a reasonable plan, I have some concerns.

But in the meantime … nothing.

The parking spaces were re-marked over the summer, but not the crosswalks. Parking spaces were marked right up to the crosswalks, which is too far. If it takes doing away with a parking space to make pedestrians more visible to motorists, do it. Do it now.

I probably cross Main Street by foot in Downtown Mocksville as much as about anybody. I did it last week, in front of the courthouse. Vehicles were coming from both directions as I approached the crosswalk. As a test, I went as far as I could without being in the traffic lane, intentionally looking like I was ready to walk. Five vehicles came by in one direction, none slowed down. It was about the same in the other direction, until one wonderful driver stopped – as the law states they should. Then the traffic on the other side stopped, and I safely crossed the street.

While the crosswalks obviously need to be marked more clearly, there’s a problem with drivers, as well. Come on folks, don’t drive through Downtown Mocksville thinking you can speed right through. The speed limit is 20 mph, but even that is too fast when there are folks walking to and from the courthouse, to and from the eateries just up the street. Expect to stop for pedestrians. It’s the law.

Our police could do a better job, as well. I’ve got a feeling that these drivers would speed past someone trying to cross the street even if an officer was there. But if they started to stop people and write tickets for failing to yield – it would help. Don’t wait for an accident to write the ticket. That action would may only work if the crosswalks were adequately marked, which they are not.

Having a special event? Put those markers in the middle of the street like they do in front of the churches on Sundays. People have driven through those, too, but they help.

And unfortunately, pedestrians also have to be more careful. Motorists either don’t know or they don’t follow the law. Don’t expect a vehicle to stop just because you’re in a crosswalk. It could save your life.

It’s a sad state for a downtown area that has been brought back to life in recent years. Mocksville is a popular place to be – day or night – for a good reason. People like it here.

But it won’t take many more crosswalk accidents for that to change.

– Mike Barnhardt