Tom’s Guide – By Kevin Parrish
A Gray, Tennessee computer network designer and anti-speed camera activist received a $90 speeding ticket in nearby Bluff City, and exacted his revenge by purchasing the offending police department’s expiring web domain.
Brian McCrary said that he received a letter in the mail from the Bluff City Police Department stating that a speed camera caught him driving 56 mph through a 45 mph zone on U.S. Highway 11E. The camera went active on January 1 and tracked 1,662 speeders during its first six weeks of operation. Speeding citations in Bluff City are typically $90, and the resulting funds are split between the city and the company that operates the speed camera, American Traffic Solutions.
Armed with questions about the ticket, McCrary went to the Bluff City Police Department’s website (http://www.bluffcitypd.com) looking for the phone number. However McCrary found something even better–a notice from the website’s host–Go Daddy–announcing that the domain name was about to be deleted or sold in 42 days. The site’s content was replace by the notice, a typical practice when domains have expired.
McCrary waited the 42 days, and applied to purchase the domain when the Bluff City PD did not renew. After Go Daddy made several final attempts to contact those responsible for the domain and received no response, the company released the domain to McCrary for $80. He then took advantage of the URL and launched a website that offers links to information about speed cameras (such as the one that busted him for speeding), and a forum for visitors to vent and offer additional information.
Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson said that the website’s renewal slipped his mind, noting that one of his officers–who was managing the website and its domain registration–was out on long-term medical leave. Nelson admitted that he didn’t play an active role in the website’s maintenance, and knows very little about computers and what it takes to run a website.
“It’s just one of those things that happen,” Nelson said. He added that Bluff City’s manager and attorney are looking into the matter to see if the URL can be returned. Currently the police department is working on a new, improved website, hosted with a different company.
McCrary said that he has yet to hear from town officials, however he’s received positive feedback from his visitors. The domain has logged 1,200 unique visitors since he took it over May 22.
“What we’re dealing with here is a complete lack of respect for the law.”
Buford T. Justice
Bristol Herald Courier – By Mac McLean | Reporter
PINEY FLATS, Tenn. – Justin Hale was delivering a pizza in Bluff City nearly two weeks ago when he saw a bright flash in his rear-view mirror.
“It scared me,” Hale said Friday of one of two new speed cameras used by the Bluff City Police Department to monitor traffic speed along a stretch of U.S. Highway 11E. “I was just like, ‘Argghh, they got me’….with my luck, that’s how it is.”
Hale, 21, delivers pizzas for Piney Pizza, a restaurant about a mile from the speed cameras.
He is one of almost 1,700 people who are the first to be cited for driving too fast through a 1.3-mile stretch of 11E that is a 45 mph zone. That number of citations went out during the first six weeks of the camera’s operation.
Although the cameras went online in December, they began issuing citations on Jan. 1.
The stretch of highway monitored by the cameras starts about 200 yards in front of Pardner’s Bar-B-Que and Steak restaurant and ends at the Piney Flats crossroads.
And as the city sets out to collect the $150,000 worth of fines and court costs those citations could yield, those caught on camera will get a letter in the mail from an Arizona-based company that details the ticket and gives them a Web site address where they can pay the $90 fine, along with an 800 number for questions.
“If people would observe the speed limit then we wouldn’t have any problems,” said Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson, who insists the cameras are about safety and claims a decrease in accidents on 11E as a result.
The cameras have drawn interest from more than just those being ticketed. During the same six-week period when the citations were issued, almost a dozen state legislators have sponsored bills in the Tennessee General Assembly designed to do away with the devices or severely limit their use.
“This is clearly not the will of the people,” Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, said regarding the use of speed and red light cameras for traffic enforcement.
The devices have generated so much hatred among the state’s residents, Shipley said, they’d probably lose if people were given a choice between them and the dreaded state income tax.
“Do they hate them?” asked Hale, who took some consolation from the knowledge that he isn’t the only one. “I don’t like them much, either.”…]
Bluff City, Tennessee
Bluff City is a city in Sullivan County, Tennessee, United States. The population was 1,559 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Kingsport–Bristol (TN)–Bristol (VA) Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is a component of the Johnson City–Kingsport–Bristol, TN-VA Combined Statistical Area – commonly known as the “Tri-Cities” region.
Bluff City experienced several name changes before incorporating on July 1, 1887 under its current name. The town was originally known as Choate’s Ford, and later took the name Middletown. After the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad was built, crossing the Holston River at the town site, the name Union was adopted. During the American Civil War it was called Zollicoffer, but became Union again from the end of the war until 1887.
Bluff City is located at 36°27′48″N 82°16′30″W / 36.46333°N 82.275°W / 36.46333; -82.275 (36.463352, -82.275049).
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.6 square miles (4.0 km²), of which, 1.5 square miles (3.9 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (3.21%) is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 1,559 people, 662 households, and 450 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,029.2 people per square mile (398.6/km²). There were 728 housing units at an average density of 480.6/sq mi (186.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 98.52% White, 0.19% African American, 0.13% Native American, 0.58% Asian, and 0.58% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 0.71% of the population.
There were 662 households out of which 29.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 52.6% were married couples living together, 11.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.9% were non-families. 28.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.35 and the average family size was 2.84.
In the city the population was spread out with 23.0% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 22.8% from 45 to 64, and 11.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 35 years. For every 100 females there were 91.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $31,587, and the median income for a family was $36,938. Males had a median income of $26,422 versus $19,957 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,175. About 11.0% of families and 14.7% of the population were below the poverty line, including 26.3% of those under age 18 and 9.3% of those age 65 or over.
KNOX News: Legislation drives debate on traffic cameras