31 OCT 08: FIRES-FALL
I hadn't heard or read any local news Thursday morning, until I checked the e-mail - so the item there was quite stunning:
The burning of the Bibb Mill took a period of Columbus history up in smoke. How sad that Columbus has lost such an important landmark . My neighbor,passed away now,had wonderful stories to tell about coming in from a rural area as an orphan and working in the mill. Up until her death she spoke of the administration,employees and the neighborhood as her family..The young ladies all lived in what they called the Bibb Hotel. THe rent was taken out of their salaries..When one of them would get married they would take up a collection and walk to Kirven's and buy material to make her a dress. They bought in the nearby grocery and shops where they could carry a debt until pay day..She met her husband in the mill and they were married a life time.
It's not only Columbus history which was lost -- but another old town. Would there have been a Bibb City without a Bibb Mill? Would it have been nothing but a baby Bibb?
But anyway: Columbus fire crews may need all weekend to completely put out the smoke and flames from the old Bibb Mill on First Avenue. There are so many potential "hot spots" that people may drive by today for two reasons -- to look at the damage, and light scary Halloween candles.
The "River Mill" as it's now known caught fire around midnight Wednesday night. If I understood the evening news correctly, 11 alarms were called - meaning units were needed from all corners of Columbus. Let's be thankful this fire developed after all the barbecue restaurants closed.
Even Phenix City provided a fire truck to help bring the mill fire under control. To me, there's something strangely fitting about that - because aren't Columbus and Phenix City rising beyond being "mill towns?" Admittedly, base realignment could make them more mil-itary towns....
The Columbus area is developing a curious trend for fires in the fall. Thursday's flames came almost three years to the day after the Jordan Mill on Talbotton Road caught fire. And in September of last year, fire destroyed the Phenix City Moose Lodge. At least members are trying to rebuild that lodge - and if all goes well, Sarah Palin might show up to honor the Mooses someday.
The River Mill complex covers several blocks, from the Chattahoochee River to First Avenue. It's a bit surprising that crews didn't try to use river water directly on the fire. After all, I doubt that many people are out kayaking at 3:00 a.m.
But firefighters did a good job confining the damage to the River Mill. Thankfully, no one was injured in the fire. And it did NOT spread to surrounding homes in Bibb City -- even though it would have been nice for crews from California or Colorado to return the favor from several years ago.
WRBL showed a piece of damage from the River Mill fire, which was blown several miles from Bibb City to midtown. This sounds like an interesting souvenir for the Columbus Museum. And for the right price, Fire Chief Jeff Meyer might even autograph it.
As our e-mail noted, the Bibb Mill has plenty of history. It was in operation for nearly 100 years before closing in 1998, and apparently became a community of its own. All the people needed was a little church near the river, and it could have been marketed like Amish country.
Only two weeks ago, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation listed the old Bibb Mill on its 2009 list of "Places in Peril." Talk about a terrible title! After what happened Thursday, that historic CME church in Americus might want to start a round-the-clock security watch.
In recent years, the River Mill had been used for shopping and banquets. In fact, a kickoff event for the Steeplechase was supposed to be held there tonight. It's apparently been moved to a downtown home - as opposed to serving guests blackened fish and flambee desserts.
I can understand why long-time Bibb Mill employees were saddened by what they saw Thursday. But in a way, I wonder if Columbus might be a bit better for it - by helping the city look forward economically, as opposed to living in the past. "What progress has preserved" does require having some progress, you know....
Firefighters are calling the Bibb Mill fire the largest in Columbus history. In fact, it was SO LARGE that a few out-of-towners may hear about it, and try to park nearby overnight. They're the ones holding early cookouts for the Fountain City Classic.
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BLOG UPDATE: The Columbus NAACP officially expressed outrage Thursday, over the Frank Lumpkin III case. It took about a week to organize its news conference. Imagine how outraged this group would be if police had waited that long to arrest Lumpkin.
The Columbus NAACP is appalled that Frank Lumpkin III was allowed to leave jail on a $2,500 bond, after allegedly shooting a man inside his stolen SUV. Members want additional charges filed, so Lumpkin is arrested again. But the District Attorney is trying to be evenhanded -- since that visitor from Griffin received a low bond of his own.
Failing that, the NAACP wants a special prosecutor appointed in the Frank Lumpkin III case. And of course, members remember how well this worked to bring justice in the Kenneth Walker case....
Darren Dowdell is the attorney for the teenager that Frank Lumpkin III allegedly shot. Dowdell says his client did NOT steal the SUV. So give the young man charged with auto theft a little credit - he believes in sharing, at least with his friends.
Darren Dowdell also claims Frank Lumpkin III said racial slurs before opening fire last week. So has Dowdell filed a complaint with the Justice Department's civil rights division yet? Or might be waiting for a better time - perhaps after inauguration day in January?
Georgia NAACP President Ed DuBose attended the news conference, and declared his opposition to "vigilante justice." He said Columbus "is NOT a lawless city" - which might be the nicest compliment Police Chief Ricky Boren has ever heard from him.
There might be a connection between this case, and the first item in our Thursday news summary....
+ WOKS-AM aired a commercial for Sheriff Ralph Johnson's campaign, with a man who said he was convinced by last Sunday's forum at the library. Now hold on here - I thought the sheriff said the forum was NOT timed for "purely political" reasons. Maybe the timing was only 30-percent political?!
+ The 5:00 p.m. TV news included three "negative ads" in a row, against Sen. Saxby Chambliss. If I didn't know better, I might have concluded he replaced Michael Registe on the FBI's most wanted list.
+ Russell County Sheriff's officers reported someone found a touch-screen voting machine at the end of their driveway. I don't think the "motor voter" law is supposed to work quite this way....
+ WRBL's Phil Scoggins introduced two candidates for Muscogee County School Board by saying they're running to replace "James Roberson." This error may sum up the impact Joseph Roberson had over the last four years.
+ Carver collared LaGrange in a big high school football game 24-0. The Tigers may have been helped by the fact that LaGrange quarterback Jamius Gunsby was suspended -- not merely from the team, but the school. You don't think the athlete called "Jay-Gun" got caught with one in his car....?!
(The WOKS broadcasting team noted Carver linebacker Jarvis Jones flies to Los Angeles today, to visit the University of Southern California. If he signs an athletic scholarship there, he might qualify for that campus's more notorious other name - the University of Spoiled Children.)
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