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Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

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Feedback and suggestions --printable and otherwise --always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Smithfield's electronic sign law will have public hearing

By Blaze Bullock

March 27, 2009 | SMITHFIELD -- A public hearing to amend the city's electronic sign law has been set for April 15.

Under current law, businesses are not allowed to have flashing signs or anything close to it. Planning and Zoning Commissioner Richard Jewkes and Deputy City Recorder Charlene Izatt recently debated what exactly the definition of a "flashing" sign was, but came to no specific conclusion.

Commissioner David Price joked about how small of a detail Jewkes and Izatt were discussing and claimed it didn't really matter. "We're getting Clinton-esque with what the definition of 'is' is," he said.

The planning commission eventually decided that any electronic scrolling sign that only showed a message for less than three seconds was considered to be flashing.

They also decided that no electronic sign may be put up next to another within 100 feet (50 feet on both sides) of it. If a person wishes to have a scrolling message on an electronic sign but can't because of the 100 foot restriction, the individual may put a message on the other business owner's electronic sign with the owner's permission.

Price and Commissioner Barbara Kent were both undecided about the matter and started on opposite sides of what to do concerning the putting another sign within a certain distance of another. After everything was discussed, the entire PC was in favor of the limit.

Commissioners emphasized that they don't want a "Vegas style" Main Street.

"It's always been that we don't want sign pollution in Smithfield," Izatt said. All were in agreement that these things should help avoid that.

Signs without scrolling messages however have no restrictions as to how close or far apart they must be from other businesses, said Kent. She also said that she thinks this is all fair because of the lack of restriction on non-electronic signs.


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