Recently, while driving into town on Highway 67, I have been filled with mixed emotions when passing the fairgrounds. For the past seven years the fair coming to town has brought back different memories for me from what most people probably recall. The smiles of the Kiwanis members throughout the crowd; eating pancakes and sausage; viewing the 4-H booths; the flashing neon lights; fast rides and games on the midway; the smell of popcorn, cotton candy and funnel cakes; and the live entertainment and livestock shows can easily pop into one's mind when the fair is mentioned.
Although those have always been fond memories for me, the memories and feelings that now arise in me as I pass the fairgrounds this time of year are quite different. I am flooded with emotion when I think of how countless individuals at the 2004 fair took time to sign a petition asking the state to put a traffic light up at the intersection of Hwy 67 and Hwy 46.
We were asking for this change because my daughter, Madelyn, was killed at that intersection on September 22, 2004, in an automobile accident on her way to school. The outpouring of support and kind words were extremely uplifting as we manned the booth that we used to bring awareness and collect signatures to present to the state. During fair week and the week after, we were able to collect 10,000 signatures!
Studies were done on the intersection and the request for a traffic light was denied in 2005, but the state did agree to make safety improvements to the intersection and money was allocated for the changes later that year.
Several years passed and nothing was done to improve the intersection. I prayed to God to keep others who passed through this intersection safe so that Madelyn's death would be the last of the many that have occurred at this site throughout the years.
Fortunately, there has not been another death there since Madelyn's and now, seven years later, the improvements have begun. The state is completely eliminating the dangerous crossroads. There are no words to describe the relief that I feel not to have to pass through that intersection again. Not only did God answer my prayer to keep others safe at the intersection, he took away the intersection entirely.
All of this would not have happened if people had not taken the time at the fair and other places where the petition was located, to sign it and offer their support to my family. Words cannot express my family's gratitude to the DOT, our county officials, concerned citizens that helped along the way, Channel 11 News (thanks Dal), the Statesboro Herald, and the numerous others who urged us on with their kind words of support and continued prayers.
There is a small comfort in knowing that our Madelyn and the others who lost their lives at this intersection did not do so in vain.
From the bottom of my heart I want to say thank you all and may God bless you and keep you safe.