30 APR 06: THE FRONT NINE
Saturday marked an anniversary for me -- nine years since I moved to Columbus from south metro Atlanta. I drove away from airport noise. But I moved into a home so close to U.S. 280 that noisy motorcycles sometimes can be even worse when I'm sleeping.
The moving van beat my car to Columbus nine years ago, as I didn't know my way around town very well yet. I moved into an apartment with no lights, so I spent my first night at the old "Heart of Columbus Motel" downtown -- now the EconoLodge on Veterans Parkway. Wow, 25 dollars for a room went a long way then....
This day in 1997 was spent unpacking, organizing, and buying curtains for windows which didn't even have pull-down shades. It felt nice having a Wal-Mart store only a few miles away on the 280 Bypass -- until it fled up the bypass a few miles more, as if South Columbus was too much of a bother.
Georgia Power insisted my electricity was on, yet the lights wouldn't come on for the first couple of days. I felt like a true single guy -- eating at a different fast-food restaurant every night for awhile....
(The answer to the electricity problem came on the third night -- when I discovered a fuse panel in the kitchen, hiding plainly on the wall next to the air conditioner. Like the commercial says, one touch DOES change everything.)
When I moved to Columbus in April 1997, I honestly wasn't sure how long I would stay here. Some of my friends in metro Atlanta actually wondered if I would commute from there, to work in Columbus. The strange thing is that they still live there - and now drive HERE to attend church from time to time.
I suspected I would miss my old home area when I moved to Columbus - but it turns out I haven't traveled back to metro Atlanta much at all. And I certainly don't miss metro Atlanta traffic much on Friday afternoons, around 4:00 p.m....
But then again, in the last nine years some parts of the area have become late-afternoon bottlenecks for drivers. There's U.S. 280 in Phenix City, between Wal-Mart and Kmart. There's 4th Street around the Civic Center. And you should have seen Broadway Saturday night, with all the extra Riverfest traffic.
One tradition I have is an "anniversary run," recalling my first jog in Columbus April 29, 1997. It has to be downtown on the streets, as that run was. For all I knew back then, the Riverwalk might have been solely for members of the River Club.
That first run downtown was around 1.5 miles. Some anniversary runs since then have been downright lousy. In 2002, I waddled up Broadway and only made it half-a-mile nonstop -- not even getting out of the Historic District to reach true "downtown." I'm convinced sometimes guys can feel as bloated as women....
But regular blog readers know my running has made a remarkable turnaround in the last couple of years. I'm happy to report Saturday night's anniversary run went a record three miles nonstop! And even better, I avoided the Riverfest area - so this could not be called a Pig Jog.
Running downtown anywhere can be an adventure. There's no set course, as I honor all traffic lights - and I'm pleased to report some Fort Benning soldiers and their spouses actually did it as well at 13th Street.
Of course, construction in downtown Columbus these days can complicate "urban joggers" like me. My biggest hazard Saturday night was construction materials on Front Avenue near a new city parking garage. And what was that rented device doing in a disabled parking spot on Broadway?
The sidewalk traffic wasn't too bad for a Saturday night downtown, and not even for Riverfest weekend. But when I ran north of 12th Street on Broadway, there was a lot more room. Even joggers can be like stock cars - and work better in clean air.
Saturday's ninth anniversary ended late in the evening, with fireworks over the Chattahoochee River. If the Riverfest organizers will please tell the crew to fire higher next April - so the explosions clear the treetops blocking my view from the apartment window....
BLOG UPDATE: That's a nice long empty railroad track on the cover of Mayor Bob Poydasheff's proposed fiscal 2007 budget. So where's the campaign promise to bring Amtrak service to Columbus?
The mayor submitted his proposed budget to a special Columbus Council meeting Friday. Supporters of Jim Witherington's mayoral campaign had to be disappointed, when none of the Councilors snickered after reading it.
Mayor Bob Poydasheff says the proposed fiscal 2007 budget of $191 million is about "making do with less" - and he adds: "Some people will walk...." Now I'm wondering if he had something to do with the recent jump in gas prices.....
TV reports were confusing about how many Columbus city workers could lose their jobs under the proposed budget. One report said 45, another said 66 -- and a few cynics wish they could leave a couple of Columbus Council seats unfilled in this
Mayor Poydasheff promises NO job cuts will be made in public safety. But the Columbus Parks Department could lose 32 positions, and might have to cut back from two soccer seasons to one. That's no big deal, though - as white folks will learn from Hispanic players, and simply occupy a field on weekends for games.
The proposed city budget sets aside about $600,000 to prepare for new soldiers at Fort Benning. I'm not sure what the preparations involve. Are there economic development grants, for new tattoo parlors?
E-MAIL UPDATE: It appears "IsOurCitySafe" has made his endorsement for mayor - and it's no real surprise:
Hmmmm lets see...who would you choose? A well respected, honest, non-lawyer, with long family ties to the city or a greasy lawyer who speaks out of both sides of his mouth depending on who is listening?
I also found it amazing, along with many other people, that the city has miraculously found money to give city employees a raise. Where was this money before? Why was it not located until Weatherington decided to run for Mayor? What kind of city manager loses millions of dollars? I imagine if the manager of McDonalds lost even a few hundreds of dollars, he or she would be looking for a new job. Maybe our city manager needs to find a new job if he loses that much money. Maybe he was saving it for braces?
I'm starting to think Brent needs his own blog - but he'd be such a good competitor for one-liners that I'd better not recommend that.
At the risk of stepping on some toes: is Brent suggesting police officers are always honest, and never "speak out of both sides" of their mouths? I'm not sure undercover drug detectives work that way....
It may not be fair to say millions of dollars were "miraculously found" to give city workers a raise. The bigger miracle might be keeping young baseball players in Columbus, after their parks department seasons are cut from two to one. Tony Rasmus in Russell County may be recruiting some already.
Brent Rollins has sent another wide-ranging e-mail, which we're not posting here until some details can be confirmed. But Friday's news verified one part - the arrest of a Double Churches Middle School student, for threatening to blow up the Columbus Police Department. He's even worse than Bob Poydasheff is accused of being.
Brent Rollins wonders why the F.B.I. had to find and arrest the Double Church Middle School student, and suggests it reflects a short-staffed Columbus Police Department. Maybe he doesn't realize how huge cyberspace is -- although the
"address book" of some 100 addresses in his e-mails indicates he's trying to match it.
It turns out someone online in Utah stumbled upon the alleged threat by a Double Churches Middle School student, which was posted at Myspace.com. My own searching there has found it's hard to track down web pages of Columbus residents. For instance, these teens might not be able to spell Columbus in the first place.
Columbus Police historically has had at least one officer assigned to online investigations. Suppose more officers worked at their desks, checking for trouble on computers. Wouldn't "IsOurCitySafe" be wondering why they're not out on patrols late at night?
Updated score: one blog e-mail for Jim Wetherington, none for Bob Poydasheff. We'll be keeping score, trying to keep things balanced - and wondering if the rumors about former judge Roxann Daniel somehow will start again.
Now for something I'm not sure was around nine years ago - some Instant Messages....
+ To Chick-fil-A on Wynnton Road: Your door says you're open until 10:00 p.m. It was locked when I came by at 9:15 p.m. Was the police officer inside citing you for misleading advertising?
+ To the Chattahoochee Valley Regional Library System: Your public access computers are "high speed Internet," right? When I see women reading books in front of one while waiting for their e-mail to update, it's time for at least a virus scan....
+ To WHAL "Viva 1460": Did I hear it right - you didn't know about that Spanish-language national anthem, until a TV station called to ask you about it? Haven't you hired any news reporters to check on these things yet?
+ To returning WRCG talk show host Doug Kellett: Wow - you're getting married this summer? There's hope for a single guy like me yet! Now if Judge Bobby Peters will call me, to make double-date plans....
(Since Doug Kellett IS a talk show host, his wedding ceremony might be unusual. When the preacher asks if he takes the bride, he might give a three-minute answer.)
+ To the Opelika school board: Ohhhh - so now you need state money to build a new high school? It looks like the Kia jitters finally are starting to show a bit....
+ To the Worth County High School girls' soccer team: Ouch - losing 16-0 to Columbus had to hurt. But your defenders who looked as wide and hefty as Shaquille O'Neal belong in that OTHER kind of "football."
+ To the Atlanta Falcons: I'm sorry, but I don't recognize any of the players you drafted Saturday. If the first one is from Virginia Tech, does that mean Michael Vick chose him?
BLOG GAWKING: Former WRBL sportscaster Jack Rodgers spotted at Country's downtown.... and if you spot a local celebrity out and about, let us know....
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