for 30 JUN 04: BENNING'S BANNING
Fort Benning's commanders laid down the law Tuesday, releasing a list of eight Columbus businesses where soldiers cannot go. But this raises a lot of questions. If the Platinum Club is good enough for the generals, why isn't it for Baptist preachers?
The "Big Eight" businesses named by Fort Benning commanders include one that's no surprise at all - the Boom Boom Room, where a soldier was shot and killed in the parking lot last month. A name like this should have been taken by a Benning shooting range in the first place....
(These generals are getting so tough, Boomer 95.3 FM might need a name change.)
The Big Eight banned businesses include the Traffic Light Inn, Cellar's Lounge and the Ponderosa Motel - all of them either on or along Victory Drive. That's why we hesitate to call this the "Elite Eight."
But a couple of banned businesses for Fort Benning soldiers did raise eyebrows. The Memory Lane nightclub near Macon Road is out. Where else in town are WHINSEC students going to teach us how to salsa dance on Wednesday nights?
Another verboten nightspot for Fort Benning soldiers is the Coach's Corner sports bar on Gentian Boulevard. That'll teach this place not to put Army football games on their TV screens....
Why put Coach's Corner on the no-go list? I did some research, and found out why. That sports bar was the last place where Zach Wages was seen alive two years ago. Albert Woolfolk left there last July, and later was found stabbed to death at his home. And if that's not enough, the cooks seem to go home early on Saturday nights when I want dinner.
Fort Benning commanders say the Big Eight will be off-limits to soldiers until these establishments take steps to clean up their crime and civility problems. For instance, the Ponderosa Motel could install cameras in every room - and then the managers would be arrested for being peeping toms.
As you might guess, businesses on the Fort Banning - er, Benning list are unhappy. Memory Lane club owner Billy McClendon told WXTX News at Ten he has occasional bar fights, but nothing more. But think ahead six months - and that club will be only walking distance away from the weirdos visiting that new library.
The owner of Cellar's Lounge offered her own explanation to Fox-54, saying the real problem is that Fort Benning has "some bad soldiers." Let's do something about this! Find those young men and women - and send them back to Iraq, to behead some terrorists.
(The Cellar's Lounge owner maintains her Victory Drive business has no problems with crime or drugs. Uhhhhh - was that the reason for the ban? Or does it have something to do with the silhouette of a good-looking woman on its sign?)
The manager of the Traffic Light Inn also protested appearing on Fort Benning's Big Eight list. He argued soldiers pick up prostitutes on the street - and his staff merely rents rooms for the night. Hopefully all the bedding is thoroughly disinfected next morning....
The Big Eight list actually might mean layoffs at Coach's Corner - because an employee told WRBL the sports bar has soldiers on its staff. So if you don't see Meals Ready-to-Eat on the menu anymore, that's why.
One Fort Benning private also said on TV Tuesday evening the ban on certain businesses is unfair. He explained the Army has too many rules already. If only the generals listened to this man -- and let troops in basic training wear tanktops during summer, to be more comfortable.
One obvious question you may have is how Fort Benning will enforce this ban on the Big Eight. Officers plan to ride along with Columbus Police and MP's on post. And if that doesn't work, taxi drivers are always looking for extra tip money.
Meanwhile, the private company which oversees dining facilities at Fort Benning received an award Tuesday night from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. I'm not sure exactly why - bt knowing the Rumsfeld reputation, it may be for refusing to feed news reporters.
E-MAIL UPDATE: "Pleeeease" wrote a letter writer Tuesday, asking me to post one more free message supporting Bobby Peters for Judge. But as I wrote Tuesday, until Roxann Daniel supporters send three messages to balance things out, pro-Peters e-mails must include a donation to the blog. Maybe Daniel backers already are in final deliberations?!
Meanwhile, the Alabama primary runoff took place Tuesday. And it was very well named, because most registered voters ran off and did other things....
Gary Waldrup won a Democratic runoff race for a Russell County Commission seat, beating Harry McElwee with 54 percent of the vote. How I wish the TV stations had shown the vote counts! If the margin was less than 200, those stolen McElwee signs might have made a difference.
Mervin Dudley won another Russell County Commission runoff, over Arthur "Buster" Sanders. Hopefully Sanders won't feel too depressed - and he'll toast his second-place finish at Dairy Queen, with a Peanut "Buster" Parfait.
Now some other things that seemed more interesting than the Alabama runoff:
+ The Phenix City Housing Authority fired longtime executive director Chuck Roberts. A competing local blog actually predicted this change 12 days ago - suspecting there's a plot to make gobs of money off downtown renovation. That's GOBS as in Good Ol' Boys, you know....
(Chuck Roberts served in Phenix City 38 years. This may not be a good sign for another Chuck Roberts I know - the 20-year anchor at CNN Headline News in Atlanta.)
+ WRBL's Mara Kelly attempted to check the facts in a "Herman Cain for Senate" commercial - but the bills he cited were in such small type, she couldn't even read them with a magnifying glass! Either Cain needs to endorse a prescription eyeglass benefit in Medicare, or "News 3" needs to buy a big-screen TV.
+ Troy University Public Radio announced it's bringing back a Saturday night hour of big band music, because "you asked for it." How will Mayor Poydasheff explain to voters he's listening to a network based in Alabama?
+ Columbus native Sam Mitchell was named the new head coach of basketball's Toronto Raptors. But why did a news anchor at 5:30 p.m. say basketball tickets suddenly would be easier to get here? The Riverdragons seem to have thousands of empty seats at every home game.
(Sam Mitchell moves to Toronto after serving as assistant coach of the expansion Charlotte Bobcats - for ONE MONTH, before even an exhibition game was played. Yeow, even Rasheed Wallace stayed in Atlanta long enough to play a game for the Hawks.)
+ Tom Slater was named Auburn University's new head baseball coach. Slater used to coach at Virginia Military Institute - where the batters were known for standing up straight, and never crouching at the plate.
+ Macon police reported a mother became so angry at Chuck E. Cheese, she threw a slice of pizza at the restaurant's mouse mascot. Who should be more embarrassed here? The mom who became outraged? Or the mascot, who would have to claim "assault by pepperoni and mushrooms?"
+ Instant Message to 352 Bogging in Box Springs: When I first heard about your business, I was a little worried. But then I double-checked - and thankfully, it's not "Blogging."
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