Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It all started with a short item in Sunday's Ledger-Enquirer, and led to me visiting the Muscogee County School Board meeting Monday night. In between there was this e-mail:

Sound off said MCSD hired an assistant to new AD Charlie Flowers..and didn't advertise..I guess some coach some where had his feathers ruffled..Who is the new Ass AD? Why hire one at all if the new AD position is only a year old??

First of all, should we be calling athletic directors names like this? Just because the coaches sometimes tell athletes to get theirs in gear....

And second of all, should we trust what people write to the "Sound Off" section of the newspaper? From what I've read there the last few days, the writers can't even agree on whether God supports the separation of religion and state.

There was an overflow crowd at the Muscogee County School Board Monday night, but it had nothing to do with athletics. The group Midtown, Inc. presented the results of several recent forums, on how to develop land around the Columbus Public Library. Some of you will be sad to learn the group did NOT recommend any Albert Paley sculptures go up.

Teresa Tomlinson of Midtown, Inc. said based on four community forums, people want a "hybrid" approach taken to the area around the main library. That means a mix of parkland and residential development. That does NOT mean Jay Toyota should sell hybrid cars there.

Given three options for development the land around the main library, almost 40 percent of the people at the forums preferred the hybrid approach. Commercial development was the second choice, while making the entire area a park came in a weak third. So apparently you skateboarders should stay on the Riverwalk, where you belong....

Teresa Tomlinson told reporters after her school board presentation she was surprised by the response in the forums to making the entire area around the library a park. It had the most negative reaction of any option - which should prove Trees Columbus did NOT pack the meetings with its own members.

If you think it would be cheaper to make the entire library area into a park, consider this: a consultant told Midtown, Inc. developing a park with nothing but green space would cost $200,000 PER ACRE - and it's a 62-acre area. This grass would be more expensive than marijuana after a Metro Narcotics Task Force bust.

Teresa Tomlinson explained to the school board one interesting problem in turning the library area into "all park." She says many people think recreation, when they hear the word "park." Some people want an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Some want an indoor skating rink. Some even want an amphitheater - forgetting there are two on either side of the Chattahoochee River already.

In contrast, the hybrid approach to the library area would have two smaller parks. One would measure about 18 acres behind the library, while another park of about six acres would be in front along Macon Road -- which sounds to me like the green space there now could be named after Mary Sue Polleys.

The hybrid plan would have NO commercial development around the main library - but instead allow for at least 250 residences. That means houses, townhomes and condominiums priced as low as the $100,000 range. And as an added bonus, all the new Fort Benning soldiers living there would keep the library from becoming a terror target.

If you're not aware, the site of the old Columbus Square 8 theatres already is spoken for. A new YMCA is planned there - which makes you wonder why some people want an Olympic-sized swimming pool in a nearby park, since they come standard at most YMCA's.

Teresa Tomlinson also reported on a smaller survey conducted by the Lindsey Creek Neighborhood Association. Most of the residents polled support the idea of a new school administration building being built near the library. But the current one is so well hidden, to guard against upset parents....

When Teresa Tomlinson's presentation was finished, I followed the TV reporters outside the meeting room for follow-up questions. With a note pad and pen in hand, she understandably thought I worked for the Ledger-Enquirer -- and she later explained to someone nearby a blog was "an Internet newspaper." I'll take that as a compliment, although some officials probably would compare it to Mad Magazine.

So what else happened at Monday night's school board meeting? Members approved all sorts of interesting little things, such as:

+ The spending of $280,000 for a new "fire lane and bus loop" outside Johnson Elementary School. The fire department apparently required the fire lane. Short-track bicycle racers may thank the board later for that bus loop.

+ The purchase of several "interactive white boards." I'm not sure what makes them interactive - if they're like Tickle Me Elmo, and they giggle when you write on them.

+ The naming of "Old Guard Road" for a street near a school under construction on the north side of Columbus. Once again, Guy Sims is left ignored....

+ An agenda with items from letters A to Z and AA -- which at times was so dull that I discovered the Muscogee County School Board seal has only 17 of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

The quote of the night from the Muscogee County School Board occurred during a discussion about buying trucks. Member "Fife for Five" Whiteside complained the staff should buy several trucks at one time - because "the school district takes a haircut when we don't." You'd think in a conservative community like Columbus, he'd be in favor of haircuts.

The school board meeting ended with an executive session on discipline cases - but still my original issue had not come up. What about this hiring of an Assistant Athletic Director? Board member Patricia Hugley Green stepped outside during a short break, and told me she knew nothing about it. And no, she assured me she has NOT missed any meetings....

Patricia Hugley Green directed me to a school official who ought to have the answer - and I stopped him in the parking lot before he drove away. Chief Human Resources Officer Don Cooper had NOT seen Sunday's "Sound Off" section, nor had Hugley Green. I should have asked if they even saw the front-page story on "Brother Love" and "Gator Dave."

Don Cooper told me an Assistant Athletic Director has NOT been hired in Muscogee County. But he said someone is on an "extended-days contract," working the equivalent of overtime to appear at some school functions. Who could have guessed Charles Flowers had an early bedtime?

Since there's no official Assistant Athletic Director in Muscogee County schools, there's been no need to advertise for the position. So there you have it - someone spreading misleading information in the "Sound Off" column. These Reginald Pugh supporters don't know when to stop....

In fact, a Google News search we did found the Ledger-Enquirer never even ran a story on the hiring of an Assistant Athletic Director. So this is a bit scary - the newspaper's editorial staff may not be reading "Sound Off," to see if it's accurate.

By the way: Monday night marked my first trip to the old Bradley Library building since the books were removed 20 months ago. It's received a security upgrade, and you can't go inside the building during the day without entering a security code and looking into a camera. As if gangs with knives are going to enter a building with no students, and only office workers?!

But some traces of the old Bradley Library still remain. For instance, a promotional sign outside the school board meeting room mentions "farewell storytimes" for children which took place two years ago. It seems much longer ago than that -- especially when you realize AFLAC didn't sponsor the story hours then.


Power Frisbee holds an open tryout in Augusta this weekend, to see who will represent that city on opening night! And pre-season stops in Columbus and LaGrange are coming August 13. Find out where and learn all about our new game at the official Power Frisbee web site; then offer your comments about it at the P.F.G. blog.

Now let's dry the misty water-colored memories from our eyes, and check other Monday news:

+ WRBL reported Columbus had 42 reported car thefts in May, and 60 in June. But thankfully, that public safety pay raise is coming to reverse that trend....

+ Columbus Technical College announced it will offer a new program to train chefs in the "culinary arts." This sounds good to me -- but I have this feeling the students are going to develop weird new versions of catfish.

(But then again, this IS Columbus - so some students may hear "culinary arts" and think they'll be cooking barbecue all semester.)

+ Vice President Cheney appeared at a Republican Party fund-raiser in Dothan. Tickets to the private dinner cost $5,000 a couple - which led me to ask how many couples in Dothan possibly have that much money to spend on a dinner.

+ Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin asked for a federal disaster to be declared, because of drought. I wonder if I can apply for aid - because some of my humor has felt awfully dry lately.

+ Instant Message to WYBU TV-16: OK, I apparently wrote a little too soon. You still have a few more weeks of "Elimidate" to show [11 Jul] - and your Christian viewers certainly wouldn't want to have missed "Geek Week" last week.

SCHEDULED WEDNESDAY: A familiar face who's still standing outside the old library after hours....

Today's entry was in part the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise here or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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