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Orlando makes you love Williston

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

There’s nothing like a trip to Orlando to make you appreciate what you have around here.

The journey came Saturday to watch the basketball game between Williston and Orlando Jones.

Traffic is horrible around Orlando.

I don’t like to drive too much at night, so I usually stay over. Just getting to the motel was an adventure as I tried to negotiate John Young Parkway, which is now a crawlway, having lost the purpose for which it was built many years ago.

Speed limits have no bearing on traffic in Orlando, neither do red lights. And on Saturday afternoon, evening and Sunday morning, the only police I saw were at the basketball game.

So the next time someone complains to me that they have to wait one extra traffic light in Williston to go through an intersection, I’ll gladly send them to Orlando. Then they’ll learn to appreciate our area.

CAR HATES MOTEL: Is it possible for a car to hate a motel? I had to ask myself that question after the weekend visit.

I pulled into the Days Inn at John Young Parkway and Interstate 4 after the trip from here. I got out and registered, then got back into the car to drive around to the room.

The “check engine” light was on.

Nothing sends fear through me more than a problem with my car when I’m away from home. Come to think of it, the last problem was last summer, when I attended the Florida Press Association convention and had trouble starting my car.

I drove to the parking lot, got out and unloaded my stuff. Then I hibernated in my room until time to leave for the game, afraid to go anywhere in the car.

When I left for Jones, a mere seven minutes away, I shook the whole time as the light stayed on. But I got there, so I knew I wouldn’t miss the game. Afterward, it was back to the motel, all with the light on.

The next morning I got up, loaded the car, started it up, and the “check engine” light was still on. I was determined to get home, though, so I drove around to the front desk and checked out, and I was now ready to drive away from the motel.

When I started the engine, the “check engine” light was off. It hasn’t been on since.

It’s almost like the car knew where it was and where I was going.

I’m still going to have it checked, but the panic has subsided. And if they tell me it’s a bad sensor or something that’s making the light go on unnecessarily, I might scream.

SPEAKING OF POLICE: Jones High is an inner-city school in the heart of Orlando, just a couple of blocks from the Citrus Bowl (or whatever they call that stadium now, it used to be the Tangerine Bowl).

Imagine my surprise when I drove up to the school to find a beautiful brand new facility, clean, neat, well-lit. The people around were friendly and courteous. Parking was plentiful. The experience was made easier by the surroundings.

To give you some idea of what the school is like, about 15 minutes after the game ended, people were still milling about the gym, and the announcer got on the mike and said, “Please exit the gym toward the atrium.”

The atrium? In a public high school gym?

Orange County is saying it has some big deficits in its school system. Yet it managed to build this facility.

I wonder if we could do the same thing around here.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.