31 DEC 03: WRAP IT UP
Instant Message to all of you making New Year's resolutions: What are you waiting for? Go ahead and start keeping them now, to get a running start....
It's the final day of 2003 - and it's obviously an important milestone. If the Muscogee County Sheriff doesn't name the deputy who shot Kenneth Walker today, civil rights groups will complain they've waited an entire year for an answer.
Columbus Assistant Police Chief Rick "Don't-Call-Me-Ricky-Anymore" Boren told WRBL Tuesday officers will be out in force, checking high-visibility areas. You can help keep things peaceful, by keeping your hands visible at all times.
Many news reports have noted this will be the first U.S. New Year's Eve under an "orange alert." The Bush administration announced this a bit too late - before Columbus city officials could arrange to have a giant orange drop downtown at midnight.
They tried a few years ago to have a "First Night" celebration in downtown Columbus, but that's apparently fizzled out. Instead, several restaurants and clubs on Broadway are joining in a one-ticket-for-all "New Year's crawl." We'll see how many people wind up so drunk they do that literally....
(Don't forget you can call SafetyCab to get a free ride home, if you have too much to drink. And also, please don't forget to leave your taxi driver a big tip - to make up for the money he's losing on you.)
Miriam Tidwell made a TV tour Tuesday, promoting a fundraising party for her husband's cancer treatment center at Port Columbus. We hope she ties everything together, by offering liver check-ups throughout the evening.
The Civil War cannon will be fired at Port Columbus to mark the start of 2004. BUT Miriam Tidwell says that won't happen until 12:25 a.m., after people watch the countdown to midnight on TV. Once again, Columbus shows it's behind the times - even at the start of a new year.
The Panamanian Association of Columbus is holding its own New Year's bash tonight on Forrest Road. We assume in good Latin American tradition, at midnight a giant piñata will drop to the floor and break in pieces.
(Come to think of it, what WOULD we drop in Columbus to mark a new year -- a giant-sized AFLAC duck?)
What gets me is how much some of the New Year's bashes cost. The Tidwell Cancer Treatment Center party at Port Columbus costs 75 dollars a ticket - in ADVANCE! The Tidwells say that cost is tax-deductible. But for that price, they could throw in a chest X-ray or something.
Many churches in the area will mark the end of 2003 with "Watch-Night" services. I've never been to one of these things - so do the ministers repeat their best sermons of the year, for people who fell asleep the first time?
(And who came up with the name "Watch-Night," anyway? I could do that at the Space Science Center almost any weekend....)
The Civic Center is hosting a rock concert tonight, featuring the band "Three Doors Down." That group also is appearing on ABC's New Year's Eve program, which started rumors the Columbus show would be televised live. Sorry, it's not -- why, nobody even bothered to show Tuesday's high school all-star football game live.
Second Baptist Church's service will be a bit different - with a Christian rock band and FREE FOOD! You'll be able to tell the non-Christians in the building, because they'll be throwing the food at the band.
By the way, did I hear WMLF Radio correctly? Several local churches will serve black-eyed peas and collard greens at midnight? Why hand out foods which supposedly bring good luck, after the ministers preach against gambling?
BLOG YEAR-IN-REVIEW CON'D: October in Columbus found the newly-named "Festival at South Commons" in full swing, and Mayor Poydasheff calling one side of town "Columbus South." Way to go, Mayor -- now they have to change the signs next fall to "Festival at Commons South."
Columbus's two big television stations marked their 50th anniversaries in October. Several news reporters have worked at both those stations over the years - and we think there's still time for Al Fleming to pull the grand slam, by moving from NBC-38 to TV-16.
Debate raged in October over a Muscogee County school sales tax - and related somehow to that, whether Wal-Mart wanted to build a SuperCenter at the old Sears building on Macon Road. Can we finally be realistic about this? Wal-Mart could have bought out Columbus Square Mall for years, and never did....
Columbus staged a "Parade of Heroes" for the military in late October. Too bad Larry's Giant Subs wasn't open yet on Broadway, to provide the soldiers with hero sandwiches.
Then came November - and Westville became a movie set for the horror film "2001 Maniacs." The director miscounted the number of SOA Watch protesters by about 8,000.
November was a decisive month for many areas of government. Muscogee County schools wound up with a one-cent sales tax. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore wound up out of a job. And now Moore can't even get a job as Muscogee County School Chief of Staff.
Russell County's Commission voted to rehire Administrator LeeAnn Horne-Jordan in November. Maybe it's just me, but since that vote Probate Judge Al Howard has acted a lot like a villain on "Xena: Warrior Princess."
Months of hope and hard work fell short in November, when the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau learned it will NOT host a presidential debate at the RiverCenter. In fact, things have become so bad the RiverCenter isn't even hosting a debate on police brutality.
The Georgia Baptist Convention came to Columbus in November. The Georgia Republican Party will hold its state convention in Columbus next May. We estimate about 1,000 people will occupy the same seats at both events.
November will long be remembered at Auburn University for the trip trustees and officials made to Louisville, Kentucky. How many mint juleps did these men drink BEFORE deciding to go there?
December brought a vote in Phenix City on whether to change the form of government -- and out of about 2,000 voters, the majority voted no. Most of the other residents probably were at the Wal-Mart SuperCenter, doing holiday shopping.
December was a quiet month in Columbus - until that sheriff's deputy opened fire one night along Interstate 185. It seems the Sheriff's Office still doesn't get it. It took two weeks for an officer to answer the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition's call for sensitivity training - by saying the department already does that.
COMING THIS WEEKEND: After an off day from blogging Thursday, we'll hand out year-end awards to people and things around the area which deserve them. If you have a suggestion for an award, write us ASAP....
If you quote from this in public somewhere, please be polite enough to let me know.
© 2003 Richard Burkard, All Rights Reserved.