31 MAR 06: THAT'S LIFE?
I'd forgotten Thursday was a momentous anniversary for our country, until TV news programs mentioned it. It's been 25 years since then-President Reagan was shot in Washington. He survived and lasted two terms in office. John Hinckley survives to this day -- proving U.S. residents are not as harsh as some Afghan Muslims.
Where was I on 30 Mar 81, when Ronald Reagan was shot? On my own version of a racquetball court -- the driveway of the duplex where I lived. It was a mild Monday in metro Kansas City, and I was whacking the ball against the back brick wall. I wonder if the ball markings are still on the second-floor wood shingles above it....
I was working in radio news in 1981 for KJLA-AM - a Kansas City station that changed from disco music to "Top 40" to mostly-oldies in about a year's time. Yes, this was an era when most AM radio stations actually played music.
In March 1981 I had been at KJLA ten months. In fact, I was the entire news department at the time -- working a split morning/afternoon shift while the bosses searched for a second person. So you might say I was on my four-hour lunch break.
My duplex had a phone in the basement/garage area -- so I was near the phone when it rang. "The President's been shot," said the station Program Director on the phone. I didn't know then that a wacko had interrupted my whacking.
I hurried into my used clunky Karmann-Ghia and drove to the radio station. Listening to my competition on the way, WHB-AM offered an update on the President's condition - then midday announcer J.J. Stone played "That's Life" by Frank Sinatra. If the phrase "what was he thinking" had been around then, I would have said it.
Walking into the newsroom, I heard the Program Director making a rare on-air appearance. "We now know the name of the suspect," Ken Edwards ad-libbed. "The man, if you want to call him that, is John Hinckley Junior." This was 1981, remember -- long before "The O'Reilly Factor" made that sort of newscast popular.
"I'm not used to doing news," Ken Edwards admitted to me after broadcasting the news bulletin. He wasn't used to a lot of things, as it turned out. As a native of San Diego, we actually had to explain to him why tornado warnings mattered in Kansas City.
Things went smoothly after I stepped in and did the station's news coverage on that day. In fact, I remember what everyone else did on the air more than the things I did. I mean, the management didn't lay me off until six months later....
The only thing I recall of my newscast during the Reagan shooting was a last-second adjustment I did to a short sports story. The National Basketball Association announced a free throw rule change - and in the nick of time, I stopped short of saying, "Three-to-make-two is dead."
The NCAA basketball final (men only in 1981) went on as scheduled, that Monday night. That caused controversy among some reporters, who felt it should have been postponed in respect to the President. But since Kansas didn't play, I really didn't care either way....
The shooting of the President only added to a year of momentous events. The Iran hostages were freed in January. Pope John Paul II was shot a few weeks later. Then the skywalks at the Kansas City Hyatt Regency collapsed that summer -- a story I covered in person. No wonder I don't hear anyone calling 1981 the "good old days."
E-MAIL UPDATE: Enough about me -- let's get to you. We've had plenty of e-mail at the blog lately, so let's do some spring cleaning and bring it all out in the next few days. We start with a blogging buddy in Ohio who's admittedly "confused" about what's happening in West Point:
I'm following your posts on the proposed Kia plant and don't understand the problem. Isn't the plant a good thing? You always hear people complain that our nation's manufacturing base is going overseas and that there is a shortage here. So Kia is bringing those exact kind of jobs here and people are complaining? Bizarre!
Being from the other Columbus I'm not familiar with all the areas you mention. Is this plant being put next to million dollar homes or something?
No, Buck, I don't think the complainers are living in million-dollar homes. In fact, I'm not sure you could get a million dollars for one of West Point's closed mills anymore....
I've heard several theories about the "Kia Komplainers" in this area. Some of them seem concerned about a South Korean company becoming so dominant in this part of the U.S. Others think the complainers really wanted their homes bought out, too - and Spectrum won't offer nearly as much money for a convenience store.
On top of that, Thursday's Montgomery Advertiser reported next week's big meeting with parts suppliers in South Korea has been postponed by Hyundai. The company is accused of creating a slush fund there, to influence politicians. So Georgia didn't have to offer incentives -- Kia could have offered its own.
Some Kia critics went to LaGrange Thursday night, for a meeting on planned adjustments to Interstate 85. But it turned out the Georgia Department of Transportation was there NOT to talk about the plant, but the impact of base realignment at Fort Benning. Are the Humvees THAT much wider than auto haulers?
Next on the e-mail stack, a comment on that new "first-class hotel" heading for Whittlesey Boulevard [29 Mar]:
> By the way, did you notice "The Prestige Group" which is investing 15 million dollars in Homewood Suites includes Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis? If his project is being praised by Mayor Poydasheff on TV, I guess it's time to strike Davis from the list of potential election challengers.
Glenn Davis is also one of the owners of Cascade Hospitality, LLP - which opened the Hilton Garden Inn at Brookstone Centre on July 2nd, 2004.... Hilton Garden Inn, and Homewood Suites are both Hilton Hotels. These two developments could be under Mr. Davis' company, Cascade Hospitality, LLP.
There is also an economy-priced hotel opening off Williams Road (next to Country Inn & Suites) next year - Microtel Inn (rates starting at $40/night)....
Just a few thoughs.
Thanks, A. I guess I missed the announcement about that hotel on Williams Road. Maybe the Chamber of Commerce decided to Microtel the media about it.
(Boy, am I ever out of touch! I thought a "Microtel" was one of those wireless phones people put in shirt pockets.)
Since Councilor Glenn Davis co-owns the Hilton Garden Inn, now I'm wondering what he thought when Mayor Bob Poydasheff said Columbus lacks a "first-class hotel." What's lacking at the Hilton Garden Inn -- the city government cable channel, maybe?
We're taking the e-mails in order, and next comes a message about something we haven't even discussed here:
In [Wednesday's] paper to quote Mr. [Hal] Kirven,"What needs to be implemented is more programs like Columbus High offers in which failure to achieve a passing level means you lose your opportunity to benefit from the program."...Does Mr Kirven realize that Columbus HIgh puts out students who do not make the grade,even after all the extra credit work is completed..What an advantage to a school's rating,if the student fails put him out.The other high schools in Columbus are over crowded,but CHS can put kids? If CHS did not get one of the best high schools in the state some thing would be seriously wrong..Wow,what an opportunity to go to a pvt.school on public money.
OK, I'll take the first guess - you went to Hardaway High?!
I haven't checked the context of Hal Kirven's letter to the Ledger-Enquirer, but our writer may not realize something. Failure to pass at ANY school can cost you benefits. It's called dropping out, and working in low-income jobs.
Has the Muscogee County School District really created a "private school on public money" in Columbus High? I'm not so sure about that. After all, only the baseball and wrestling teams consistently contend for state titles....
I suppose you could argue all magnet schools act like private schools to some degree, because students with special interests receive top priority. Add to that the incoming Muscogee County School dress code, and Brookstone might file a lawsuit claiming plagiarism.
Another e-mailer is in a mood to vent, and seeing red....
Tonight [Wednesday] on WRBL City Manager Issiah Hugley told News 3 that the reason people in Columbus run red lights is because the old lights are not bright enough so people don't see them change...........No you putz! People run red lights because there are not enough cops on the force to enforce all the laws in this little town. People run red lights because they are a) in a hurry; b) too stupid to realize they are risking lives; and c) because they know they won't be caught. Almost everyday I see people, multiple cars at once!, run the light. I've seen accidents caused by red light runners. I've even seen police on multiple occasions witness light runners and do nothing about it.
The city manager needs to get his head out of the sand (or wherever he keeps it) to see what goes on around him. You want people to stop running lights? Enforce the law ALL the time. And here's an idea: instead of buying the new LED lights, take that money and spend it on more cameras. As I understand it,
the city has bought cameras, but only for a few intersections. Just like government to put a bandage on things.
So let me get this straight, AR - it's not the old lights which are not bright enough. It's the old drivers....
I've seen the same sort of thing AR has seen at traffic lights. The other evening a driver clearly missed the yellow light on Veterans Parkway - and I honked at him as he sped by. Perhaps my horn woke him up. Besides, if he was in a big hurry, he wouldn't have time to turn around and bump my car.
But really now - does ANY city have enough officers to enforce all its laws? Even little Hurtsboro can't seem to stop those allegedly roaming gangs. It's a wonder they've failed so far to burn down the entire town.
AR may not know the "traffic cameras" Columbus is installing are NOT set up to catch red light runners. At least that's what city officials say. If the crowd at Recorder's Court suddenly doubles in size, I guess we'll know better.
The cameras being set up downtown supposedly are designed to help with traffic flow. Maybe they'll spur a return of radio traffic reports - which only seem to happen now when a caller to WRCG's "Talkline" interrupts a discussion on Al
Our last e-mail for today responds to our Thursday note about a big building when could get a new name:
> Columbus Civic Center manager Dale Hester confirmed to WRBL he's trying to sell the arena's name to bring in extra money. Remember, your PayPal donations to us can make this possible - and provide events for the "Columbus City Blogatorium."
A little more information about the renaming of the Civic Center. It could be the Blogatorium for a sweet $600,000+
Thanks for the tip - but yeow, $600,000? And the deadline to submit a bid is TODAY?! For that price, I want more than the name of the building - I want at least a section of seats.
If $600,000 is the target price for naming the Civic Center, I can think of only one local company which could afford to pay it. The "AFLAC Arena" is a nice-sounding name - but if they dare put a giant inflatable duck in front of the U.S. flag, forget it.
But then again, $600,000 might be a bargain for the Civic Center. Kia is spending more than one billion dollars in West Point, and all it's getting so far is a boulevard.
We thank all of you who write us - and now let's see if Thursday's headlines inspire you further:
+ Which unusual traveler rode a motorized wheelchair down Interstate 85 through Lee County? I'm told police stopped the guy, yet they let him pitch a tent along the interstate overnight and keep going. The Department of Veterans Affairs simply MUST open more clinics....
+ Flags at the Government Center and Public Safety Center flew at half-staff. I'm told it's in memory of former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. I appreciate the show of sympathy - but what does he have to do with Columbus? Which city councilor's campaign fund did he help?
+ Former police officer Charles Weaver announced he'll run for Nathan Suber's Columbus Council seat. Weaver told WRBL he wants "to focus on our schools." That's funny - I thought there was a School Board election this year, too.
(A former police officer runs for Columbus Council, and the first words out of his mouth are about improving schools? Somewhere "Is Our City Safe" must have thrown his computer keyboard halfway across the room.)
+ Law officers from across Georgia gathered at Kendrick High School, to teach students the important of safe driving. It's nice to see that at least a FEW police departments in the state are at full staff, and have extra people to lend to us....
+ The final day of the Georgia Legislature's session featured a debate of more than one hour, over whether to have license plates promoting abortion rights. They would counter the "Choose Life" tags - yet somehow I doubt the other ones would say, "Choose to Abort."
COMING THIS WEEKEND: E-mail about Waffle House.... and a spam lightning round....
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