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Drinking Advocates Stage Blacktip Island-Wide Drunk Driving Race

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Both Blacktip Island’s roads will be cleared of non-essential traffic Saturday for the inaugural Rat-Faced Road Rally drunk driving race around the Caribbean island’s coastal road. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny/DAMM)

The Blacktip Island Chapter of the drinking-advocacy group Drunks Against Mad Mothers will sponsor the inaugural Rat-Faced Road Rally impaired driving contest Saturday to raise money for multiple community organizations.

“People get drunk and drive no matter what, so why not let them get it out of their systems in a controlled manner?” DAMM president Jack Cobia said. “This makes sure it’s properly supervised, it serves as a cautionary demonstration and raises money for charity at the same time.

“We’ll block both roads to non-participants,” Cobia said. “The only people out there’ll be the drivers, and they’ll be swaddled in bubble wrap. We’ll also have beaters to make sure the roads are clear of iguanas and other wildlife. And spectators.”

Organizers say money raised will go to the island’s Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous.

“People pledge a dollar amount for each mile a driver completes without wrecking their car,” DAMM treasurer Rosie Blenny said. “Off-road mileage, intentional or otherwise, won’t count.

“The winner’ll be the one who completes the most laps around the island and stays conscious,” Blenny said. “There’s also degree-of-difficulty points assigned to each driver, based on estimated alcohol tolerance. Dermott doesn’t even feel his first three beers, and a half case for Gage Hoase is like a six pack for anyone else.”

Participants are eager to compete.

“Celebrates a long-standing Blacktip Island tradition’s what it does,” James Conlee said. “Daddy did it. Granddaddy did it. Great-Granddaddy did on horseback. Now I’m gonna win it.

“I been practicing drinking and driving for weeks now, polishing my skills,” Conlee said. “A little proficiency driving never hurt anyone, you know. Tore up a fender or two, and maybe a tree, but never hurt anyone.”

Island officials say the event will also serve as a public safety demonstration.

“Folks see one of these yahoos slam into a tree, they’ll think twice about drink-driving,” Department of Public Works chief Stoney MacAdam said. “And the money raised will more than offset any damage they do.

“There’ll also be DPW-administered betting grids for how much alcohol each driver consumes versus how much distance they cover,” MacAdam said. “Proceeds from that are earmarked for driving safety courses and reflective road signage.”

Some, however, worry the event sends the wrong message.

“Making light of drunk driving doesn’t help, no matter what lessons are taught or what sort of funds are raised,” island nurse Marissa Bass said. “It encourages it, really. I have a couple of Cessna owners on standby to airlift idiots off island when they drive into ditches or each other.

“I also have $25 on Dermott, but that’s just common sense,” Bass said. “I’m safety conscious, not stupid.”

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Second Constable To Help Ease Blacktip Island Traffic Woes

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A motorcycle approaches Blacktip Island’s troublesome western intersection Thursday morning. The small Caribbean island has been assigned a new police constable responsible for directing traffic in the intersection during peak times. (photo by Wendy Beaufort/Blacktip Times staff)

Blacktip Island Wednesday welcomed its second island police constable, tasked with directing traffic on the small Caribbean island.

“There’s too many close calls at the intersection,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “It’s a dangerous mix of speeding vehicles and tourists on wobbly resort bikes. Last week a drunk Lee Helm took out three Scuba Doo guests with his scooter.

“It’s worst around lunch time and when the bars open,” Cobia said. “Right before the liquor store closes, too.”

Island residents say the additional constable is past due.

“Public safety demands it,” said Helen Maples. “Yes, we’re a small island with only two roads, but that intersection is a nightmare. Just yesterday a Skerritt Construction truck ran the stop sign and nearly put me in the sea grapes.

“The constable’s not needed all day, you understand, only in the high-traffic times,” Maples said. “Club Scuba Doo donated a big beach umbrella for a shelter when he’s not on the roadway, and Sandy Bottoms’ donated a pool chair.”

The new constable has embraced her new duties.

“Over on Tiperon, you hear horror stories of the traffic on Blacktip,” Island Police Constable Catalina Luxfer said. “That’s going to stop. There’s a new sheriff in town. Motorists will respect my authority.”

The new constable is already a hit with island visitors.

“We didn’t think she was real at first,” Missy Marlin said. “I mean, a traffic cop on a tiny island? Then she moved, and nearly scared us to death. In a good way.

“It’s like the guards at Buckingham Palace,” Marlin said. “When no cars were coming, she posed in the middle of the road and let us take pictures with her.”

Not all residents were happy with the new constable.

“He can talk all he wants about safety, but Jack’s not fooling anyone,” Joey Pompano said. “It’s the first step down an ugly road. First it’s a traffic cop. Then another. The next thing you know, there’s more police than residents.

“Jack’s always been power hungry. This is just his way to take control on the sly,” Pompano said. “He wants a police state, but this is Blacktip. We self-police just fine.”

The island’s other police constable downplayed those fears.

“No one’s taking control of anything,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Hell, if someone could figure out a way to control anything on this little rock, they’d be up for a Nobel prize.”

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Overtaking Vehicles A New Danger On Blacktip Island

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Motorists speed past Blacktip Island’s Club Scuba Doo during rush hour Thursday. Local authorities worry a recent uptick in overtaking vehicles on Blacktip roads represents a growing public safety threat. (photo courtesy of Rosie Blenny, Jr.)

A surge in the number of vehicles overtaking other vehicles on Blacktip Island roads had island officials scrambling for solutions Thursday.

“Blacktip has two roads and a 25 miles per hour speed limit,” Chamber of Commerce president Kay Valve said. “Vehicles don’t overtake each other here. There’s never been a need to.

“Now, though, there’s three, four overtakings a week. It’s crazy,” Valve said. “Just today, a big construction truck blew past a rental car on that stretch in front of Club Scuba Doo. Unless you’re the police or the nurse, what’s the hurry?”

Witnesses were stunned.

“It was shocking. A pair of Scuba Doo guests had just stepped out on the side of the road,” the former Reverend Jerrod Ephesians said. “The wind from the truck blew their hats off, scared the hell out of them. The one guy’s eyes bugged out like big dinner plates.

“Away from the resorts, and on the east coast road, it’s always been a free for all, vehicle-wise,” Ephesians said. “But to drive hellbent-for-leather through town? It’s a miracle no one’s been hurt.”

Island police said curtailing the trend is a top concern.

“Safety of pedestrians, especially resort guests, is very much at risk,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Tourists on vacation don’t think. They climb on a rusty resort bike after not having ridden a bike in 30, 40, years, and wobble off down the road. Add two cars barreling down the road side-by-side to that mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

“The overtaking’s dangerous, but not illegal,” Marquette said. “The problem is the overtaker’s usually exceeding the 25 mph speed limit. That’s where we’re focusing our enforcement efforts.”

Some island officials are taking proactive measures.

“I’m pushing through a law banning overtaking on Blacktip,” island mayor Jack Cobia said. “We’ll send a clear message to motorists: if you want to pass someone, go somewhere else. Blacktip isn’t that kind of island, and it won’t become one.”

Social scientists worried about the trend’s cause.

“It speaks to an increasingly-agitated mental state of Blacktip motorists, this need to pass another car on an island with maybe two dozen vehicles,” Tiperon University-Blacktip sociology professor Moraye Meade said. “It also speaks to the changing nature of island society.

“We’re animals, competing for the same resources,” Meade said. “As the population grows, that competition intensifies. People fight to be the first, even if it’s just the first to happy hour. That’s a disturbing trend.”

Some residents fear the problem is a sign of things to come.

“Blacktip’s getting too crowded, like the big city with all this crazy traffic,” longtime resident Rosie Blenny, Jr. said. “If this keeps up, I’m going to have to move to a quieter island that’s not so stressful.”

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