Sunday, March 30, 2008


"I'm amazed, I'm shocked...." That's what a Russell County Commissioner told your blog Saturday night. And imagine if we had been talking about Davidson's run in the NCAA basketball tournament....

"This is the first I'm hearing of this," Commissioner J.D. Upshaw said when we brought up some rumors people are spreading about him in Russell County. Upshaw happens to be up for re-election this year. But with a three-person Democratic primary 3 June, the mud-flinging simply can't wait until September.

J.D. Upshaw denied two different rumors we'd received by mail in recent days. He added: "If I was you, I wouldn't put those up...." That seems fair enough to us. If another candidate blurts them out in public, that may help determine where they started.

J.D. Upshaw guessed the two rumors we were given came from the wife he divorced three years ago. "I beat my wife in court," he told us by phone. Hopefully that means a legal judgment, and not the alternative explanation of that sentence....

We're not sure if J.D. Upshaw's ex-wife is behind the rumors, but the letter containing them clearly came from a familiar source: the mysterious "Russell C. Ounti." That's the Russell County man who supports Constable Robert Schweiger's actions - the same Schweiger who's challenging Upshaw for Commissioner. Mr. Ounti may be Hurtsboro's answer to James Carville.

"You need to investigate J.D. Upshaw," began the short letter Russell C. Ounti sent us. Then came the two allegations - and without giving away details, one of them was church-related. Upshaw told me he's pastored Mt. Hillard Baptist Church in Bullock County for 30 years. I don't think it's illegal for a county commissioner to cross county lines, to give a sermon.

(And before the rumors really get out of hand - no, J.D. Upshaw is not related to Jeremiah Wright in Chicago.)

We were given a separate name and two phone numbers to call, about the second allegation. As of Saturday night, that person had NOT returned our messages -- and on our second try, a woman hung up the phone when we said J.D. Upshaw's name. The Schweiger campaign must not watch TV court shows, because otherwise the star witness would be cooperating.

Russell County Commissioner J.D. Upshaw did confirm one bit of election news to us: "I plan to serve four more years, then retire." He's served District 7 for 12 years - and I think he's one of the few commissioners who hasn't been sued or hospitalized.

But the rumor mill doesn't stop running there. Even before we talked with J.D. Upshaw, a man told us he plans to file charges this week to have Robert Schweiger arrested. That certainly won't help Schweiger's chances in the primary. After all, look what it did for Don Siegelman....

Former Hurtsboro police officer Sam Smith says Robert Schweiger has sent a series of harassing faxes to his new full-time job in Montgomery. I think after a certain point, it's officially called har-ax-ment.

Sam Smith used to be Robert Schweiger's next-door neighbor, and we first were told about their clashes more than a year ago. Smith sent us an e-mail, explaining what's happened recently:


I hope you had a good Easter weekend. I just wanted to update you and let you know that R.J. Schweiger has sent and additional fax to my office after I have warned him that criminal charges would follow if he should do this. I ready your snippit about someone wanting to check divorce records [25 Mar]. Now you see how vendictive he really is. He is like a little his fax he handwrites;


Since I didn't have your mailing address-I sent a check to the court. I'm sure that Bellamy will see that you get it!!! is written on the letter that I sent him through certified mail.

The man has my mailing address because he has sent me certified letters when he was threatening to sue me. I will keep you and WRBL informed on the breaking news when I sign the warrant for harassing communications under Alabama criminal code 13A-11-8(b)(1).

Headlines: "Local Constable running for County Commissioner arrested for harassing communications"....sounds good doesn't it?

Sam Smith

Uhhhh - no, that doesn't sound like a good headline. I'd rather read headlines about how these candidates are going to cut my taxes.

But anyway: Russell County Judge Michael Bellamy received a check from Robert Schweiger earlier this month. Remember the $250 small claims court case Sam Smith won? [21 Mar] The Constable wrote a check, all right - but for only five bucks. I hate to say it, but he's making my late Dad's occasional alimony payments to my Mom look downright generous.

Robert Schweiger apparently plans to pay his $250 small claims court bill on the installment plan - five dollars a month for 50 months. Do we really need another New York investment bank shoved toward bankruptcy?

But wait, there's more! I'm told Robert Schweiger wrote the five-dollar check to not only Sam Smith, but Ramona Schweiger - his ex-wife. She now lives in Illinois, while he comes across as ill and annoyed.

Romona Schweiger happened to be visiting Alabama in January, and agreed to be a character witness for Sam Smith in small claims court. But from what we've pieced together, Robert Schweiger apparently suspects his former wife and Smith are lovers. He might even be monitoring those "long-distance dedications" on weekend music shows.

Sam Smith calls himself a "law-abiding citizen" in a separate e-mail to us. But County Commission candidate Robert Schweiger may have his doubts. His own recent e-mail to us makes that clear....

Sir Richard:

In the good ol' days, The cavalry and sheriff's posses used indian trackers. Those chaps could follow a track that was months old. "Simple" Sammy left his tracks all over the community of "Hurt'sboro; before he ran for cover! He never broke the law - because he was the "law!"

He and "Judge" Ken White, along with "Magistrate" Raford Tapley pursued a program of injustice for several years without any resistance from the "good" folks in "Hurt'sboro. Oh, they complained - but nothing was ever done to stop it!

When this ol' Constable starting making noise - everyone cheered. Whenever I met a bump in the road - everyone disappeared! That's when things started getting rough! White didn't enjoy being played for a fool (that was relatively easy) and "Simple" Sammy wanted to be a hero. So, after several narrow escapes; they cited me for "practicing law without a license. They based this; on the fact that I had taken a sworn statement (I'm a notary Public) and that case against me was dropped - when it was headed for a jury trial! There's much more; but I wont bore you with it now!

I have documents to prove that "Simple" Sammy (full name - Samuel Leon Smith) was NOT certified, when he "played" cops and robbers in his first term of employment here in "Hurt'sboro.

You might try the divorce records - it seems that he had multiple marriages and at least five kids. It's alleged, that there is a warrant for back child support out there somewhere....

You might try the Parole & Pardons board in Phenix City he seems to have left there rather quickly!

One thing more; Sir Richard. I take a measure of affront from your suggestion I would make a good gossip columnist. As Joe Friday used to say " just the facts sir - just the facts!"

Constable R.J. Schweiger

Sam Smith explained the certification issue to us in an e-mail last year - that there was a delay in the city of Hurtsboro filing the proper paperwork. If we can ever find the Hurtsboro Mayor, we'll ask her about that.

We sent this e-mail to Sam Smith, and asked for his comment about it. He admits he is divorced, but denies he's behind with his child support payments. That puts Smith in the lead over Constable Schweiger by at least $245.

We're sad to report both Sam Smith and Robert Schweiger want us to bring Schweiger's ex-wife into this debate. But she really didn't want to be part of it, when we talked with her Friday. Yet the higher a pile of mud grows, the more likely onlookers are to slip and fall in it.

So let's sort all this out: J.D. Upshaw's ex-wife may be spreading rumors to help Robert Schweiger. Schweiger is spreading rumors about someone who isn't running for office, and that man wants Schweiger arrested for it. And through it all, we've heard nothing about Russell County Commission candidate Larry Screws - but don't worry, it's not even April yet.

We're also marveling at how far this web site has come in five years. Today is our 1,600th post to this blog, and our original aim was to offer a little Columbus humor. But now, some readers have come to think of us as the top "private eye" department this side of Atlanta television - and here today, we almost feel ready to take over the bench on Divorce Court.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Time now to move on to our next alleged scandal - this one in Columbus Little League baseball....

You wanna know about Ron Harris, here it is.

Ron Harris was arrested and charged with one count of Sexual Explotation of a Child for having sexually explicit images on his computer at his business. You see, Ron owned Cyber LANdings, the place where kids went to play video games and computers online. There were a number of computers that were in the business, and there was only ONE that he claimed was his. As a matter of fact he wouldn't let anyone use that computer. Ron would stay up late after work and download and read stories and view pictures of children in a sexual nature. The images were discovered and reported to the proper authorities. He was only charged with one count, but hopefully the DA will add more to insure that this sicko will stay behind bars. Who knows how many fantasies he had about the kids at his business while they were playing.

How sick is that? He would view images of these kids on a computer AND he was a board member of the Pioneer Litttle League. Thats scary.

We understand the Ron Harris case will go before a Muscogee County grand jury in a few weeks. The larger lesson in all this seems to be that parents should monitor what their children see online -- and monitor other parents after that.

One other e-mailer has several things to comment about:

Thank you to the fire houses over Muscogee County for offering to test blood sugar for diabetes...

What a sad day for Columbus as a result of the shootings at Doctor's Hospital. I just want to tell the people who read this blog who don't live in Columbus what a loving community we are..This is in no way a reflection of the kind hearted community I live in...

A salute to Mr Whiteside for your years of dedication and service to the school children of the MCSD..You are appreciated for doing the
right thing,which did not make you popular with some other members..

After thinking it over, I wonder if Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes has opened a can of worms with these diabetes screenings. Before you know it, someone will demand a check of police blood sugar levels - to see if they really hang out at doughnut shops.

The killings at Doctors Hospital are absolutely nothing to joke about. But what's this I'm hearing about a second gun incident recently, at a different Columbus medical facility? Reportedly no shots were fired and the suspect surrendered - but then the case was covered up. We may sadly be at the point where "health screenings" include metal detectors at the doors.

We'll hold some other e-mails for another day, and quickly check weekend headlines....

+ Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman was freed from prison, after a federal appeals court ruled he can post bond. If he hurries, Siegelman still might have time to run for the state Public Service Commission.

+ The Springer Opera House presented a children's play called "BFG: The Big Friendly Giant." Why the production isn't sponsored by B.F. Goodrich Tires, I have no idea....

(WLTZ showed a couple of the actors in "Big Friendly Giant" jumping around on stilts. This looked a bit dangerous - and I wondered why the Springer Opera House couldn't borrow a few Segways to use instead.)

+ The Auburn Blue team beat the White team 30-14 on football "A Day." But large sections of Jordan-Hare Stadium were empty - compared to the 92,000 in Tuscaloosa for Alabama's spring game last year. Maybe if Coach Tommy Tuberville visited Bono, instead of traveling to the Middle East....

+ Instant Message to the Sonic Drive-In on Victory Drive: That was pretty clever - playing Beyonce's hit song "Irreplaceable" as I thought about what to order for dinner. After all, the button to press for service is "to the left, to the left."

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $3.15 a gallon at Summit, 22nd Avenue and Victory Drive.... lettuce for 79 cents a head at Piggly Wiggly.... FREE FOOD at Millie's Market on South Lumpkin Road today for "Customer Appreciation Day," so for once the beggars might eat there....

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We'll have NO blog entry Monday, due to a busy schedule. And daily blogging may diminish over the next three weeks, due to our annual Serious Spring Cleaning.)

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 650 (+ 17, 2.7%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 28: 4.0 miles run, 1.6 miles walked. Total: 101.35 miles run, 14.3 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, March 28, 2008


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

Maybe I've missed something in the campaign news over the last few weeks. But do Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain have pastors? Is anyone analyzing the sermons THEY have made over the years? Or is Barack Obama the only candidate who even bothers to be a member of a church?

You've surely heard by now of the fuss involving Barack Obama's longtime church in Chicago, and some of the things that church's pastor has said during sermons. If anything productive has come from this, one issue appears settled once and for all - Senator Obama is NOT a Muslim.

Barack Obama declared on "The View" Friday he would have left his Chicago church, had his longtime pastor not acknowledged making some controversial comments during sermons. But Jeremiah Wright seemed to admit that already - during the sermons, when Obama apparently missed. And this did NOT seem like one of those churches where it's easy to fall asleep.

I'm in the camp which has trouble believing Barack Obama never knew about what Jeremiah Wright was preaching. But I'm also in the camp which suspects Obama is like a lot of churchgoing people - they don't double-check their Bible to see if it matches what the preacher says. For instance, if the preacher tried to claim last weekend that the apostles had Easter egg hunts....

Some claim Jeremiah Wright's messages are divisive. But I could name plenty of other ministers who say Bible-based sermons are supposed to divide. As in dividing righteous people from sinners - and even the fundamentalists from the dangerously liberal who say "love" too much and "law" too little.

I've admittedly been reluctant to bring up the Jeremiah Wright sermons - because for years I've attended church groups where pastors have said things every bit as outrageous, only at the other end of the spectrum. One has preached against big-money "greed" game shows such as "Deal or No Deal." Yet when the congregation had a "Deal or No Deal" game night, he didn't, well, call it a No-Deal.

Then there's the Columbus Pastor who declared during a service in October 2000: "Let's all pray that George W. Bush wins the election." No, I do NOT have that on tape. This pastor has enough smarts to make sure the tape doesn't roll during announcement time, before the sermon officially starts.

In those two cases, I actually did what some people say Barack Obama should have done. I quietly left the game night before it began, considering it a case of hypocrisy. And in October 2000, I stayed home from church the next week - even though the denomination doesn't consider itself protest-ant.

Careful blog readers may notice I've attended several different congregations in recent months. I'm admittedly taking a leave of absence from my longtime denomination - a group which officially says it's "non-denominational." Yet it has a home office, affiliated churches and a core set of doctrines. As I heard one evangelist say, being "non-denominational" can become a denomination after awhile.

I've been "trying out" other church groups in large part because my longtime pastor has preached things I don't consider Biblical. But to be honest, the alternatives so far haven't thrilled me very much. They're striking out on my score sheet even more than my old group. But I don't feel tempted yet to apply online for one of those quickie ordinations.

Wane Hailes asked a great question last week in "The Courier" - should he leave his church because of his pastor's sermon? My answer would be yes, IF the pastor didn't follow the Bible in his sermon. God's Word should be the standard. And it takes regular reading and study, to make sure of what it says -- because misquoting it could be worse in the long run than misquoting a politician.

For years I wondered why political candidates bothered to mention on their biographies where they attend church. It seemed like a throwaway line, with little value. But this year has proven that detail matters for some people. So if strangers attend your congregation this weekend, be nice to them - and tastefully ask which candidate they're spying on.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 633 (- 69, 9.8%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 27: Racquetball workout, 58 minutes. 0.3 miles walked. Total: 97.35 miles run, 12.7 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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The Columbus Fire Chief came under new scrutiny Thursday. Jeff Meyer faced a revealing test, and I'm told he did NOT pass. And here's the most stunning part - the name Zachary Allen apparently never came up.

The test Jeff Meyer took was a health test. He received a five-minute exam at Fire Station #4 on North Oakley Drive, to introduce a new diabetes screening program. This was a bit different from a usual day for the Fire Chief - when he has phone call screening.

The Fire Chief received a "blood sugar screening," to determine his risk of diabetes. I'm told a number below 100 is good, but Jeff Meyer's score was around 112. And if your blood sugar number matches your credit score, you're probably in real trouble -- one way or another.

Columbus Councilor Jerry "Pops" Barnes says from now on, free diabetes screenings will be available seven days a week at all fire stations. EMT's will administer the blood sugar tests from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. every day - but it's probably not a good idea to be tested right after eating Sugar Frosted Flakes for breakfast.

Pops Barnes is a registered nurse, so he's made health education a big issue since he joined Columbus Council -- especially diabetes. You may recall he marked World Diabetes Day last November, by giving a medical test to Mayor Wetherington. Apparently the mayor was ruled in good enough health to endure criticism of his one-percent sales tax proposal.

Pops Barnes says more than 150,000 Georgia residents have diabetes, but don't realize it. That may sound bad, but consider this. I think an even higher number of Georgians don't realize they have State Senators.

Pops Barnes noted people are at higher risk of diabetes if they have what's called "metabolic syndrome." Yet for some reason, more people have been scared in recent years of The China Syndrome - and the scenario of that movie hasn't harmed nearly as many people.

Diabetes is a serious health problem, because it can lead to difficulties ranging from blindness to comas. You can tell it's bad simply by looking at the word. There's not much difference between diabetes and diabolical....

More celebrities have diabetes than you might expect. Did you know longtime Columbus TV newsman Dick McMichael is diabetic? When someone bought a nice cake to mark a milestone in his career, I think people were stunned to see him settle for peanuts from the vending machine.

The Georgia Legislature also made health news Thursday. It gave final approval to a bill requiring all high schools to have defibrillators. If only something similar was developed for grade school teachers to use on sneaky students - the "de-fib till later."

There's even a proposal in the U.S. House, requiring schools from coast to coast to have defibrillators to revive stopped hearts. This goes beyond "No Child Left Behind" -- to no child left in an emergency room.

But there's a big question here, which I don't hear any lawmakers answering. Where will schools get the money for these mandatory defibrillators? Will the devices first be used on teachers - when the teachers learn their jobs have been cut to buy one?

There were a few other things we found funny, on a Thursday when the big news in Columbus certainly was not....

+ It was "C.S.U. Day," with signs planted around the mark the city to honor donors to Columbus State University. It may have been the easiest day of the year to be a door-to-door salesperson.

+ Russell County School Superintendent Yvette Richardson admitted to WRBL enrollment is down, so she wants to cut 11 teaching positions next term. I never knew that many students commuted every morning from Seale to Smiths Station.

+ The annual United Negro College Fund banquet was held at the Columbus Trade Center. The event is a salute to higher education - but apparently no one in Columbus is a computer science major, because the UNCF web site's events calendar didn't mention it.

(Did you know the United Negro College Fund has obtained a registered trademark for its slogan? The slogan is, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste" - a slogan I doubt you'll see on any Hollywood gossip web sites.)

+ Instant Message to everyone promoting a special energy-saving "Earth Hour" Saturday night: You already have an Earth Day in late April. Isn't that enough time for you?

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: The mud flies early, in one local political campaign....

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 702 (+ 11, 1.6%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 26: 0.3 miles walked. Total: 85.45 miles run, 12.7 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008


Wednesday was a big day for one of Columbus's biggest companies. The C.E.O. of Aflac co-hosted an hour-long discussion near Wall Street. Then company officials held an important meeting with employees who are young parents. Only one event was on TV -- and it probably was NOT the one most people preferred to see.

Aflac chief executive Dan Amos appeared for an hour on CNBC's "Squawk Box." I didn't see and hear all of it -- but he seemed to say the upcoming shareholder vote on his salary was NOT binding. So if people don't give the right "say for pay," the board could throw all the ballots away.

Dan Amos attempted to justify his proposed compensation of more than $13 million. He said Aflac's "market cap" had increased enormously since he became C.E.O. Does it take someone with a big head, to wear a cap that size?

Dan Amos added the value of Aflac to shareholders has increased more than 3,500 percent during his tenure. If that's true, forget about keeping him in Columbus as C.E.O. -- let's put him in Washington, running the Federal Reserve Bank.

Dan Amos says even though the U.S. economy is slumping, he expects Aflac revenues to grow 13 to 15 percent this year. I think that's because Aflac does a lot of business in Japan. If the dollar's value keeps dropping, all those yen will go much farther in Columbus.

It was surprising to hear Dan Amos say Aflac does most of its corporate investing in securities based in the Japanese currency. It's a wonder Jim Rhodes hasn't organized a protest march around the Aflac tower....

(Aflac employees who come here from Japan must be surprised as well. You'll find three hamburger restaurants within walking distance of Aflac tower - while you have to drive downtown to eat at Sumo-to-Go-Go.)

Another surprise came at the end of the hour on CNBC, when Dan Amos said Aflac uses a different voice for its famous duck in Japan. Apparently Gilbert Gottfried's "Aflac!" is considered too loud there -- which also may explain why sumo wrestling is bigger in Japan than the WWE.

I doubt the Squawk Box team asked Dan Amos about the biggest Aflac issue of the moment -- its day care contract. A late-afternoon meeting with parents concerned whether to continue using the Growing Room. In recent weeks, things have been more like Growing Pains....

First there was the Growing Room staff member accused of pulling children around by their ears. Then came speculation that the Growing Room almost sent a child home with the wrong adult. If two errors were enough to result in a disqualification, the Democratic nominee for President might be settled by now.

Some Aflac parents said they actually like keeping their children at the Growing Room and Imagination Station. Consider the alternative for a moment. Some women might face the scary thought of working from home....

Aflac executives insist nothing has changed for now, in its day care deal with the Growing Room. But an annual contract comes up for renewal and review in June -- so this could be a golden opportunity for Chuck E. Cheese to expand its operations.

Aflac probably wanted more attention paid to another announcement involving children Wednesday. It's providing $16,000 for a second year, to sponsor the summer reading program in Columbus-area public libraries. Mary had a little duck, its feathers white as snow....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of someone with a lot of money, remember the woman we described on Wednesday?

Richard...the wearing of the green known as b'day money is a long tradition..I don't know if it covers the world ,but certainly it is practiced here in Cols...Watch the school kids who have b'days...Sure does help with that shopping for b'day presents.. I really enjoy reading your blog in the morning..I think the Ledger must read your headlines when getting ready for the next day's edition...keep up the good work...

Uh-oh - I have to be careful, when it comes to watching school children. As a longtime single guy, one wrong look anymore can get your name checked in a sex offender registry.

No one pinned money on me, when I was a boy. Among my friends, it was even dangerous to play "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."

But enough about politics - let's move on to other Wednesday news:

+ TSYS Chairman Phil Tomlinson appeared on CNBC during the "Dan Amos Hour." Tomlinson noted his company obtained a credit card contract this week with Standard Bank of South Africa. In that country, of course, everyone knows it's the gold Standard....

(Phil Tomlinson added consumers still seem to be using their credit cards as much these days - but they're buying less with them. When diesel fuel prices hit four dollars a gallon, there's not much left in the convenience store budget for beef jerky.)

+ Fife Whiteside told WXTX "News at Ten" he will NOT seek another term on the Muscogee County School Board. I'm not sure this is the man school board critics want to see quit - but they might help him prepare a resume to apply for Superintendent.

(Remember the last school board campaign, and the signs Mr. Whiteside placed around his district? They said "Fife for Five." Now people campaigning for his seat might refer to the current board as the "Fife and Dumb Corps.")

+ WRBL reported a 63-year-old man was arrested for operating a house of prostitution on Third Avenue, near Manchester Expressway. Some parts of Columbus have the "House of Heroes." This neighborhood (ahem) reportedly had the "House of H**o's."

+ A Fort Benning employee told the LaGrange Daily News his family bought Easter baskets at Publix - only to find messages in them supporting Saudi Arabia. Obviously, there was a mix-up here. Saudi Arabia's government bars sales of ham, at any time of year. [True!]

+ Spence McCracken announced he'll retire as Opelika High School's head football coach after the coming season. His successor will have a tough act to follow - but he should have an easy time convincing the school board to change that misspelling of "Dawgs" on the team helmets.

+ Instant Message to Pastors Vince Allen and Chris Mitchell: That's a pretty bold move you made - merging your congregations to form "The Bridge Church" on Second Avenue. But if you don't mind, I'm waiting for The Poker Church. You know, worshiping the "King of Kings...."

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 691 (+ 10, 1.5%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 25: 3.5 miles run, 1.4 walked. Total: 85.45 miles run, 12.4 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008


"I probably shouldn't ask this...." I said quietly to the woman in front of me in line at a grocery store Tuesday evening. Before you jump to conclusions -- no, I wasn't shopping for dates at the supermarket.

"What?" the woman in front of me asked.

"Why do you have five-dollar bills pinned to your shirt?"

I couldn't make this up -- the woman really had several dollar bills pinned to her shirt, in plain sight of anyone. The top bill was a five. To borrow from Tuesday's e-mail, the "big bills" might have been right below it.

"They're from work," the woman said. That seemed to rule out the Alzheimer's theory.

But this led to another question - why were people pinning dollar bills on this woman's shirt at work? We were in a downtown-area grocery store - a good distance from the men's clubs on Victory Drive.

"It's my birthday," the woman explained. Aha! So she was NOT reenacting that TV commercial for investment plans, where someone wears money all over the place.

I didn't ask where this woman works -- but apparently her office has some sort of custom of pinning money on people celebrating their birthdays. Somehow I doubt this woman works at a loan office.

"Be careful where you walk, with that on," I advised the woman. She probably didn't have a lot of money on her shirt, but she was in a riskier situation as this week's lottery millionaire with the giant-sized check.

"I'm going straight home," she assured me. You don't think she would play tunes by "50 Cent" in her car, do you?

The woman's turn in the checkout line finally came - and the woman at the register showed remarkable poise. She didn't ask about the five-dollar bills on the customer's shirt. And she didn't presume to pull off any, to pay for the groceries.

The woman in front of me wound up with about $3.60 in change. But then things became even more puzzling. She put the three dollar bills in her billfold.

"You're not putting those on?" I asked her.

"They're separate," she answered. Maybe she worked at a tax office -- and she set the gifts apart, to count for next year's return.

Before you consider this woman bizarre, stop and think for a minute. You might be wearing a lot of money in public today, without even realizing it. Do you wear fancy jewelry? Put on a top-dollar suit? And have you learned to cover up the logos on those late-model Nike sneakers?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of big money on public display....

Is it wise for taxpayers to foot the bill for the entire Muscogee County School Board (sans Messrs. Whiteside and Wells), its outgoing Superintendent and a guest and its outgoing Asst. Superintendent and a guest to travel to Orlando, Florida to live it up at a NCSB meeting while we cannot find the money to build desparately needed new schools? Perhaps y'all could ask the good Doctor about that before they leave Thursday.


The Federalist

I'm told the national school board convention is an annual event. I think board members have traveled to it for years -- but it's not clear if the entire school board will travel to Orlando this year. When you've seen one Mickey Mouse, you've seen them all.

But let's not jump to conclusions here. The cost for attending this school board convention might not take away from the budget for new schools. The school board might simply be spending that Baker High School money.

Here's one more message, about new arrivals in local broadcasting:

Hey Richard;

While I can't provide more information until the station goes on-the-air. You might find information on the FCC website regarding a new FM station that will be put on the air soon in Columbus.



Licensed to Cusseta, GA

Owned by River City Broadcasting, LLC

Our web-wide searching Tuesday night didn't find much - but with a name like River City Broadcasting, you'd think the owners would live outside Columbus. We're River-TOWN, after all....

But it turns out the main owner's name on WBOJ-FM is H. Lynn Page, a retired executive with Synovus. His wife is on the Brookstone School Board of Trustees - so perhaps those call numbers stand for: "We're Brookstone, Overpowering Jordan."

Now let's scan the dials, for items which made news on Tuesday:

+ Mayor Jim Wetherington held his final public forum on the proposed one-percent "streets and safety" sales tax proposal. The mayor admitted to WRBL the turnout has NOT been strong for the forums. Blame it on "March Madness" - as in mad voters, who have already decided to vote no.

+ WRBL reported a Fort Benning "battle lab" wants to close Front Avenue for a day, to conduct training involving tanks. These soldiers simply need to be patient - because God Bless Fort Benning is coming again downtown in November.

+ Fort Benning Rangers began four days of unusual overnight drills, at the LaGrange-Callaway Airport. You never know when North Korean spies will sneak their way onto one of Kia's private planes.

+ Midland Middle School Principal Richard Green assured parents in the wake of the "slap boxing" suspensions, the school's restrooms are now regulated. This should be a relief - because I'd certainly want a student to wash his hands, before slapping my child across the face.

+ Kendrick High School announced plans for a parade to celebrate the state champion ladies' basketball team. It won't be held until April 19 -- as if they expect the baseball team to be dominant for the next few weeks.

+ Instant Message to my niece Heather: Yes, I received it - the card announcing your wedding in Kansas in late May. But when did couples start sending "save the date" cards, before wedding invitations came out? Did you hire some big public relations firm in Kansas City to handle this?

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Gas for $3.13 a gallon at Dolly Madison on Victory Drive.... milk for $2.99 a gallon at Circle K.... Aflac's Dan Amos co-hosting CNBC's Squawk Box in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour (so will it be renamed Quack Box?)....

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 681 (+ 11, 1.6%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 24: 1.5 hours spring cleaning. Total: 81.95 miles run, 11 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Monday evening's sports report noted how Northside High School came very close to winning a fourth consecutive state marksmanship competition at Fort Benning. Perhaps it's a good thing they haven't started rifle programs in middle schools -- because too many hooligans might bring weapons, to keep "trying out" for the team.

More than 20 students have been suspended from Midland Middle School, because they were caught "slap boxing." Well, at least they followed the instructions of old-time professional wrestling referees -- back when punching with a closed fist was against the rules.

Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller told WLTZ Monday the Midland suspensions occurred last week. Someone apparently recorded a slap boxing battle on a cell phone, and a student was caught watching it in class. Once again, cell phones are ruining everything - because teenagers can't lie about winning fights anymore.

Valerie Fuller said there's no evidence at this point that slap boxing has spread to other middle schools. So the Jerome Bechard Classic may have to wait until next winter.

Valerie Fuller added Midland Middle School is concerned about students "arranging fights on a daily basis." Well, of course they're concerned. Fight nights once a week should be enough....

I can understand the desire to teach and keep peace at Midland Middle School, by suspending all these students. But maybe there are other ways to let young people vent all their emotions. My old high school had a physical education teacher, who kept boxing gloves in a closet for tense moments. But then again, young people might not recognize them in this era of "mixed martial arts."

There's also the option Fort Benning displayed Monday. A new building was opened on post for the U.S. Army Combatives School -- as in hand-to-hand combat. Do that for awhile, and students will learn mere slap boxing shows how wimpy they really are.

The news of slap boxing suspensions brought back memories of my two years in junior high school. A few aggressive students tried to declare "open chest day," and slapped other students across their chests without any warning. In phys-ed class, I might have understood this - but one guy did it before social studies.

Then there's the classmate in junior high school phys-ed who acted quite aggressively toward me. Tim wanted me to fight him after school - and one morning, I had enough and agreed to it. I didn't tell my parents about it. But my Dad probably would have approved -- because for once, the boy he nicknamed "Butch" was living up to that name.

I went to the woods behind the junior high school with no hidden weapons. But I'd been watching Jerry Quarry contend for the heavyweight boxing title on TV, so I decided to do what he did. I danced around Tim, jabbing at him from time to time - and he didn't consider that fair fighting at all.

We wrestled a bit in the woods, with no one drawing blood or scoring a wrestling pin. And the strangest thing happened as a result of that fight. Tim stopped his taunting, and actually became friendly with me. Not "blood brother" friendly, you understand -- that would have scared me to death....

E-MAIL UPDATE: Let's have some follow-up from recent topics - starting with Sunday's item about a beggar on South Lumpkin Road....

Last week in Big Lotts a homeless looking older man was in the check line in front of me..He bought a blanket ,a sleeping bag,a small tent and a pick axe...He paid for it with a $100 bill and walked off down the street..The clerk said they have a lot of homeless customers who carry big bills. She said they cash SS checks or SSI checks and get some in big bills to hide away in their clothing..So,ask beggar #5 if he has spent his big bills yet..Looks dangerous to me..

Hmmmm - if they're really homeless, how are they obtaining Social Security or disability checks in the first place? Don't they need a little money for a post office box?

But then again, maybe that man with the big bill at Big Lots wasn't really homeless after all. He might have been a college professor, preparing to take his class on a spring retreat at F.D.R. State Park.

Monday's blog exclusive also brought a response - from the managers behind Columbus's newest TV station. This comes from Victor Ives of White Springs Television:

Hello Richard!

Thanks for your inquiry.

We are delighted to have our little network on the air in Columbus, GA. The station is brand new and is owned by Mark Snow of MD Broadcasting.

I have attached a link to a map of the coverage area, which looks like the station has good coverage of the area....

I am sending a copy to Mark, who might be able to tell you more.


Thanks for noticing us!

Mark M. Snow

MD Broadcasting

WWCG-LP Columbus, GA

We've posted a substitute link, as the one we were given did not bring up a map. But we were sent a coverage map separately, which makes it appear that channel 11 has its tower in Phenix City. Mr. Snow may not realize Phenix City is not really one further hour behind the times than his programs.

WWCG continued to amaze me Monday night, when it presented a "soundie" - a short film of a song from the 1940s. Believe it or not, there were "music videos" three decades before anyone dreamed of MTV. But with time, soundies became harder to find at the movies - which is a lot like music videos on MTV, isn't it?

We'll have to hold a couple of other e-mails until we do some research - so let's move on to a quick check of other Monday news:

+ Russell County sheriff's officers decided a Hatchechubbee man acted in self-defense, when he shot and killed a neighbor siphoning gas from his truck. There's a lesson here for all of us. If you own a sport utility vehicle, there's a small fortune in your gas tank - so guard it at all costs.

+ Columbus resident Prentiss Shumaker won the $5 million grand prize, in the Georgia Lottery "$500 Million Club" game. Shumaker admitted he hasn't told his relatives in Mississippi about his big win. Here's hoping he doesn't take them all to a Biloxi casino to celebrate.

+ Richard Hyatt's new web site claimed Columbus attorney Alonza Whitaker is considering running for Superior Court Judge, against Kenneth Followill. Do you think Whitaker can win at the polls? Or will he simply Follow-well?

+ Instant Message to the person who e-mailed us, suggesting we check a man's divorce records: Oh please. Do you really want me to go there? I mean, that man's not running for political office - YOU are. Shall we be evenhanded, and sort through your divorce papers as well? And maybe call that former spouse in another state for an "endorsement?"

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 670 (+ 10, 1.5%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 23: 2.4 miles jogged, 0.2 walked. Total: 81.95 miles run, 11 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, March 24, 2008


So I'm dialing around the non-cable TV Saturday night. One channel has college basketball. Another is showing the classic movie "The Ten Commandments" - but I remind myself I've already read the book.

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Then I scan the remote toward channel 16 - but the TV stops at channel 11, on a 1940-era Bugs Bunny cartoon. It's classic, timeless humor. I mean, I hadn't seen an exploding cigar on TV in years....

So what had I stumbled onto here? Many guesses came to mind:

+ 1. A weird cable bleedover. I have what appears to be a CATV cable sticking through the wall into the living room, and the TV Guide Channel has appeared in fuzzy form on my set a couple of times in recent weeks. Of course, it's never there when you want to review red-carpet awards show fashions.

+ 2. A wild "station skip." When I was a boy, my little Zenith portable set in Kansas City once picked up a station in Hamilton, Ontario. Another time, it brought me a station in Corpus Christi, Texas. But it never picked up the station my family wanted most on Sunday afternoons -- to get around home blackouts of Chiefs football games.

+ 3. Atlanta's "11 Alive," WXIA. But that station should have been showing reruns of "Law and Order" on a Saturday night -- like about 20 other cable channels.

I checked at the top of the hour to see what this thing on channel 11 really was -- and it was none of the above. It turns out a new low-power TV station is on the air in Columbus: WWCG. That's close enough to WRCG that Archway Broadcasting might want to try a lawsuit, to gain some extra money.

(Those call letters are especially ironic to me - because I attended a church denomination for years which some people called WWCG for short. But using Bugs Bunny cartoons to lure me back to church seemed a little strange....)

WWCG is showing programs from "White Springs Television," based in White Springs, Florida. Its focus is on showing old movies without any commercials. So it's a bit like Turner Classic Movies - except it lacks Ted Turner, and the movies aren't really "classics." Just because something is old doesn't always make it classic.

For example, today's movie schedule on WWCG includes "43: The Richard Petty Story." I never knew a movie was made about his life in the mid-seventies. ESPN doesn't tend to make movies about stock car racers until well after they're dead.

It appears WWCG shows old cartoons between the movies. Some of them surprised me - because I didn't realize 15-minute-long Superman cartoons were made during the 1940s. George Reeves in the TV series was nothing but a copycat. And how many children jumped off roofs and hurt themselves, following his example?

White Springs Television apparently makes its money by selling DVD collections of some old movies, and running ads between the movies and cartoons. It's actually a bit refreshing to see "Chef Tony" selling his products for only one or two minutes, instead of 30.

White Springs Television seems intent on showing family-friendly fare -- as Sunday's movie lineup was filled with Bible-based films. But the old cartoons might be a bit controversial, as a disclaimer was shown before one with a jungle setting. WWCG should stay so low-power that Bill Madison of the NAACP can't see it.

It's not clear who owns and operates WWCG, and we e-mailed White Springs Television Sunday night asking about that. The station is licensed to "MD Broadcasting." Either this is a company currently running a radio station in Mississippi - or those creative doctors who bought Summit Hospital are at it again.

What disappoints me so far about WWCG is that it might not show any local programming. But then again, maybe Carmike Cinemas is behind this station - as an educational tool about movies for its employees.

There could be one more low-power TV station on the horizon in our area. An online check found Prism Broadcasting has reserved channel 19 for WANX. I couldn't pick it up Sunday night, so perhaps I'm in the wrong part of town to see it. But then, there are nights when WYBU-TV 16 is barely visible - and as a Christian station, you'd think it would have more power.

The next broadcast station to take the air in Columbus probably will be on radio. WTMQ is promoting the return of the old "Radio Continental" on the FM dial next Saturday. It's now called "Spanish Radio" - but if it's not "radio en Español," it might not be that Spanish after all.

Now let's put down the remote, and review other discoveries from the weekend:

+ The price of diesel fuel topped four dollars a gallon in Columbus. I saw $4.11 posted outside Spectrum at Interstate 185 and Buena Vista Road. But of course, fuel prices are always jacked up a bit along the interstate - except in Tifton, where the nice managers usually have prices a good bit lower.

+ The Saturday anti-war protest downtown included a "4000 and more" sign. In fact, the U.S. military death toll in Iraq did not top 4,000 until Sunday night. Just because you're protesting outside a church does NOT mean you should try your hand at prophecy.

+ The "Real Time" telecast from Cascade Hills Church had a major surprise - as Pastor Bill Purvis presented an Easter sermon wearing a suit and tie. What did I do to this man, when I worshiped there for a few weeks last fall?

+ The Columbus Lions lost their indoor football home opener 54-48, to the Erie River Rats. This was stunning news to me, because I thought Erie was better known for lakes.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths backed into the hockey playoffs, thanks to a Saturday night loss by Huntsville. Whoever scheduled a jersey auction following Friday night's final home game must be a closet Huntsville fan....

+ Instant Message to Google News: Did your computer do that? Did it put the headline "My trust in my Lord" in the "Entertainment" section? Or do your programmers think all the religious people go to church for the pastor's one-liners?

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 660 (- 19, 2.8%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 22: Racquetball workout, about 50 minutes. Total: 79.55 miles run, 10.8 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


"We're homely.... homely people." So a stranger told me in a Columbus parking lot the other day.

"I think you mean homeless," I told him. But then again, have you ever seen a homeless man who was a hunk?

BLOGGER BEGGARS 3 & 4: In response to a reader's suggestion, we're trying to combine our encounters with Columbus beggars. On Friday, we met #4 - and it all started as I walked down the sidewalk at the Oakland Park Shopping Center.

"There's a store here," a man in a bright yellow shirt said as I approached Millie's Market. They simply don't install overhead signs in the strip malls, like they did 30 years ago.

I had stopped to turn around in mid-sidewalk, to get something from my car -- except I didn't quite grasp what the stranger said, and thought he might be the lost one. So I went back for clarification. "Yes, I know there's a store there."

"Oh, I thought you might be looking for a store." I should have told him there are others south of Millie's, that he can promote as well.

"Are you good?" the man asked me. What a loaded question. He might as well have been a Baptist evangelist, by the way that sort of question forces a Christian like me into a logic corner.

"I try to keep the Ten Commandments," I said in a confessional response. "I try not to sin, if that's what you mean."

That may have been exactly the information he needed. "Can you give me some change, please?" Who knows -- if I had said I'm not good, he might have run away in fear.

"What do you need it for?"

"I'm trying to get something to eat at Church's" - a restaurant about two blocks away.

"Not from Millie's?"

"No, at Church's." I should have asked why not Millie's. Shouldn't you beg for money outside the place where you really want to eat?

"I have clothing in the dryer, sir," - which was true, since it was my coin laundry day at Oakland Park. "Can you wait? Is this a now-or-never situation?" Some beggars over the years have left the impression that if they move off the spot where they're standing, they'll keel over and die.

"Yeah, I can wait." The stranger in the yellow shirt wandered around for a while, then came into the coin laundry a few minutes later as I was folding some clothing. "How are you doing, sir?"

"I still have some clothes left to dry. It'll be a few minutes, then I can help you." I can't help wondering if that reply surprised the man - and if he forgot I was the one who offered to help him in the first place.

The beggar was willing to wait on my remaining wet clothes in the drier. "I've got all day," he said. I had a 12:45 luncheon to attend, then spring cleaning to do at home. Beggars are only "on the clock" until sundown - and maybe a bit later on weekends.

But the beggar actually did me a favor, as I finished the laundry chore. He found a stray blue sock in a washer, that I missed while moving the clothes to the drier. I might have concluded it was hiding in my bedding - and I'd wind up merely with one extra pot holder.

(The stray blue sock was dry by the time I'd finished lunch. The back of a car on a sunny day beats line-drying anytime.)

The man in the yellow shirt was quite talkative, as we hopped in the car. "Piggly Wiggly...."

"No," I said stopping him. "You said Church's, so we're going to Church's." If he wanted change for a refrigerator full of food, he should have said so up front.

It was during the short drive to Church's that the beggar revealed quite a bit of information. Not only had he been "homely" about a year, but he's part of a group of homeless people. "About 12 of us.... we're in a tent city."


"Behind the Winn-Dixie" - about a mile farther up South Lumpkin Road. So he IS working a little bit. That's a long walk to the Oakland Park Shopping Center to beg.

"So that explains all the beggars I've seen around here," I told the man. Like the man who said "Dollar" in January, and wound up with a 15-dollar lunch. And the man two years ago in the Winn-Dixie parking lot, who wanted gas money for a mystery car he wouldn't show me. And a host of others - which seem to total a lot more than 12.

As we pulled into the Church's parking lot, the man in the yellow shirt started haggling. "They have a nine-piece for $6.99."

"No, I'm only buying you lunch." But he was rather large around the waist - so nine pieces might have been lunch to him.

Inside Church's, the beggar made his order. "Gimme a four-piece." Only problem: the menu had an offer of four chicken tenders - not four whole pieces of chicken. And I should note it cost more than the spare change he wanted in the first place.

Stymied in his attempt to get four pieces of chicken, the beggar asked me again about the nine-piece offer for $6.99. I still said no -- and the man wound up settling on a chicken tender combo for $5.59. He said something to me about not being able to fill him up. Well, almost. "Can I have a couple of pieces with that?" he asked a woman behind the counter -- as if this was a flea market, not a restaurant.

One big question remained as I drove away toward my regularly scheduled lunch. What about that tent city? Friday evening I drove back to South Lumpkin Road - and while I didn't see any tents, I found plenty of evidence in the woods behind Winn-Dixie that homeless people live there. At least they're not hindering traffic around downtown bridges anymore....

The man in the yellow shirt told me churches in the neighborhood provide the homeless camp with food from time to time. He did NOT say any of them provide jobs, or help in finding one. Perhaps this group should start walking over to Baker Village, and offer to help tear down building walls.

Lest we forget: beggar #3 was much more run-of-the-mill. It was a man who walked past me a few Saturdays ago, as I strolled on the Chattahoochee Promenade near the Space Science Center. "Sir," he said twice after passing me - then finally he had the courage to ask for money for something to eat. Strangely, I didn't even have a wallet sticking out.

"I live a few blocks from here," I told the man. "Come to my house, and I'll make you something to eat." The man agreed, and the walk picked up some pace. The less time he had to think of other things to demand, the better.

During the walk of about five blocks, I went through all the "outs" the beggar might have. No, he wasn't limited in what he could eat - unlike one man on Veterans Parkway years ago, who made it sound like he was on a "chicken-or-death" diet.

We passed a house on Broadway where two people were doing some loading or unloading. "I'll have to go back there, and see if I can work for them," the beggar said. I tried to tell him he shouldn't be working on Saturday. But then again, I don't say that to any restaurant workers when I dine out after church.

The man took a seat on my front porch, and I heated a frozen burrito for him in the microwave. Why DO the burrito instructions tell you to turn the plate once, when the machine has a spinning plate already installed?

I gave the man his burrito on a plate with a cup of water -- but he couldn't stay long. "I've got to see about that work," he said carrying a late lunch away. Somehow, I doubt those two people needed to hire a begging stranger. The law offices down Broadway probably would warn them about the liability risk.

BLOG UPDATE: We didn't realize it until the last couple of days, but Hurtsboro's favorite (well, only) Constable Robert Schweiger confirms to your blog he's running for Russell County Commissioner. If Hurtsboro's going out of business, he's going to have to find some bigger corruption to attack.

The Ledger-Enquirer reports Robert Schweiger is challenging Russell County Commissioner J.D. Upshaw. But a bigger surprise may be a third name in the race. School principal Larry Screws was arrested and acquitted two years ago, after he was accused of not promptly reporting a sex crime allegation. Combine that with Schweiger's contempt of court conviction, and Upshaw may not have to campaign at all.

SCHEDULED MONDAY: A check of Columbus's newest TV station....

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 679 (+ 15, 2.3%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 21: 3.65 miles run, 1.95 miles walked. Total: 69.15 miles run, 10.8 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, March 21, 2008


(BLOGGER'S NOTE: You may find this item humorous, serious, or a little of both - but we offer these thoughts from time to time, as we keep a seventh-day Sabbath.)

Someone had told me the neighbor weeks ago that former neighbor Curtis had died. So it was quite a surprise to come home from church last weekend, and have someone else tell me he died only that day. Life and death is one of those little details you'd think people would get right.

We told you last spring about the man in apartment #5, who was weakened from cancer when he moved out [7 May 07]. Curtis McKelvey died last Saturday at Franciscan Woods, and his funeral was this past Wednesday. I attended the funeral in a suit, walked in carrying a Bible - and sure enough, a man at the microphone presumed I was a pastor.

I never realized until I read the funeral program that Curtis McKelvey had five children, 17 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. They didn't all visit him at once, during my years in Columbus. But a few showed up at curious times of the night on weekends, with some sort of issue to resolve.

The funeral program offered another surprise to me - that Curtis McKelvey "had accepted Christ as his personal savior." I have no idea when he did that. But I assume it must have been after October 2000 - the night he fired a shotgun from his front porch, after he had too much to drink.

There was a good bit of weeping at Curtis McKelvey's funeral. But the good news is that God promises a resurrection day for him. There's also a resurrection day promised for the three children of Agena Battle - and even for their father. When that day comes, somehow I think the father will have a few more questions to answer....

On this weekend when many people think about resurrections, you might want to read I Corinthians 15 and Revelation 20 in the Bible. That resurrection might be different than you think. And you might be stunned to learn there's more than one - a bit like those "second chance" brackets in the basketball tournament.

SCHEDULED SUNDAY: We search for a tent city, not far from Fort Benning....

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 664 (- 83, 11.1%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 20: 48 minute racquetball workout. Total: 65.5 miles run, 8.85 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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The U.S. stock markets are off today, to mark Good Friday. Have I ever told you what I heard an Atlanta radio announcer say about that? "They're ALL good, as far as I'm concerned."

Some Christians take time on Good Friday to remember the One who died for their sins. But some people seem to have a different focus this year. They're too busy pointing out the sins of others, which need to be covered....

The people doing this are connected to the town with as many controversies as residents - Hurtsboro. On Wednesday, former resident Sam Smith told us he challenged Constable Robert Schweiger in small claims court and won. Russell County records show the $250 judgment was paid to the court this week. So Smith can't lean on the Constable's barn - or is that what he meant?

But now it's the Constable's turn to fire - almost like a game of darts, except people are throwing at each other:

Sir Richard:

Some of the "good" folks here in "Hurt'sboro have tried to convince me to quit Blogging with you. I've seriously considered their advice. BUT THEN! you come ridin' in out of cyber-space with information that makes my day!

Lil' Sammy's boasting on yesterday's BLOG was news to me. Oh yes it's true - but the court never passed the order on to me. The time for appeal is long past - but Judge Bellamy has it on his desk for consideration. Thanks Richard. I owe you one!

When the Big Blog Question was in effect [21 Feb] - one of my supporters suggested that I write fiction. Believe me here in "Hurt'sboro truth is stranger than fiction!

"Simple" Sammy would be a good project for your tracking skills. There's the saga of the missing pick-up truck, an episode of horse rustling, altered police reports, and even an incident where the hoodlums in town took his mace. (He went crying to the Russell County deputy's, and asked them to get it back) He is as laughable as Barney Fife in most cases except one that I know of - where he physically abused a much smaller young man (240/140 ratio) and cost the young fellow's mother almost a thousand dollars in fines and court costs.

His property is a public nuisance with brush, weeds, varmints, insects, snakes, and junk.

Today I received a nasty letter telling me all the bad things he's going to do - unless I pay off in two weeks. I suppose he will try to sue me for what I've written today, but I've got letters, pictures, and witnesses to back up my allegations."simple" Sammy thinks he's above the law - because he carries a gun and wears a tinfoil star!

Check him out Sir Richard - you will have lots of copy for your Blog

Constable R.J. Schweiger.

Sometimes I wonder if the Constable missed his calling in life. He could have been a great gossip columnist for the New York Post or TMZ.

Verifying all these claims by Robert Schweiger isn't easy. That's partly because court records might not exist for all of them, and partly because Alabama's court records have plenty of people named Sam or Samuel Smith. There are even several court listings for "Sammie Smith" - which may explain what happened after her one big hit country song.

We did an online court search for Samuel Smith in Russell, Bullock and Lee Counties - but we couldn't find any records relating to most of the cases the Constable mentions. But the way he's kept score on Smith, I'm assuming these men belong to opposite political parties.

The one case we know about involving Sam Smith is one the Constable brought up here last year. In fact, it's the one which put Robert Schweiger in court as well - for giving legal advice in a Sam Smith trial without a license. Perhaps they both should have performed "community service," by putting up a tall fence on their shared property line.

I mean, look at some of the accusations the Constable is making here spent time in jail -- all the way down to a neighbor's property having weeds. If I didn't know better, I'd think Robert Schweiger and Sam Smith were competing coaches in a Little League program....

Sam Smith has moved out of Hurtsboro, to the Montgomery area. And if Robert Schweiger gets his way, Hurtsboro soon could be filled with "former residents" like Smith -- since the Constable wants the city charter revoked, and everything turned over to Russell County.

We should note there are NO pending court cases involving Samuel Smith or Robert Schweiger in Russell County court. This allows both men a bit of time to rest their voices, before the next shouting match begins.

E-MAIL UPDATE: The latest big decision by the Muscogee County School Board brought a reply Thursday....

Richard, I have several comments concerning Baker High School. First, if as many Baker grads would have showed up at the School Board Meetings as come to the Baker Reunion parties the decisions to put Baker on the surplus property list and to sell it would probably have been different.

Secondly, there are thousands of BHS graduates still living in the Columbus area. They could band together and vote out of office the school board members who voted for this sale. As a matter of fact, I'm surprised they haven't initiated a recall petition on those board members who have allowed that school to deteriorate to such a degree that it has to be bulldozed.

And to illustrate how South Columbus is treated differently than North Columbus can anyone imagine the Muscogee County School Board allowing Columbus High School to sit for years in a state of disrepair after the fire there? Of course not! It was immediately rebuilt.

And if BRAC is bringing thousands of new children to the South Columbus /Ft Benning area wouldn't it have made sense to refurbish Baker High School? It won't be long before the School Board will be looking for an expensive piece of property to build a new school on in the South Columbus area for these students. And my guess is that the dollar total to buy the property and build a new school will cost more than to renovate BHS. But that's no problem - just raise the property taxes again.

A Baker High School Graduate & Columbus, GA taxpayer

Someone spread a rumor our way several weeks ago, that a recall drive was planned against a Muscogee County School Board member. But so far, it has NOT materialized. Instead, you're more likely to find petitions about high gas prices than an old high school.

It may not be fair to compare the Columbus High School fire of 1981 with the old Baker High School property now. For one thing, Baker students were moved into a nice new middle school several years ago -- and then the old building became vacant. And on top of that, the change gave Hispanic soccer players a new place to play their league matches on Sundays.

We also have a reaction to Thursday's main topic -- the two lockdowns at Phenix City schools:

Your comment that the schools should post immediate news is very feasible.

I just completed a 100% scan for a company, (Skyhook Wireless) locating Wi-Fi locations in Columbus and Phenix City.

I was surprised at the number of people with a wireless set-up in their homes. (Don't worry, it was just noting signals, not hacking into them).

Match this up with the number of businesses and government offices that do not either have a web site, or do not keep it current and you can see where the mis-match is in this area.

Back to my original comment. If the school used the internet as a means to get timely info out, then, yes, I believe it would be used by parents. They would also be better able to reach the parent through e-mail to notify them their kid is absent as well, and most others without broadband are on dial-up locking out other calls.

Mike Daley

I'd heard of "wi-fi" in Columbus -- but I never knew that would lead to companies becoming "wi-fi spies."

The Phenix City School Board may not update its web site often, but at least the city web site appears current. A check at our post time found a "what's happening" page filled with coming events from April to December -- but it includes a May concert by the lead singer of "Bad Comany." Either they meant Bad Company, or this is an attempt at bad comedy.

BIG PREDICTION UPDATE: The Georgia men's basketball team led for quite awhile Thursday, but wound up losing to Xavier 73-61. Once again, we learn a lesson from the comic books - it's very hard to defeat those uncanny X-Men.

All Georgia fans are invited and encouraged to root for my alma mater Kansas from here on out. The Jayhawks pummeled Portland State Thursday in Omaha, Nebraska - and in a nice new arena that I'm surprised isn't named after Warren Buffett.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 747 (+ 18, 2.5%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 19: 30 minutes spring cleaning. (Yes, housework counts.)

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, March 20, 2008


A realization came to me Wednesday night. Some things in life are reliable, such as today's first day of spring. Other things are notoriously unreliable, such as a Karmann-Ghia I drove in the 1980's. And few things are as unreliable as a rumor going through a public school -- whether by students or teachers.

Wednesday's news showed how unreliable those rumors can be. Two different Phenix City schools were put under lockdown - one based on inaccurate information, the other based on a rumor which couldn't be proven. It seems to show why Phenix City schools are better known for football stars than journalists.

It all started with a robbery at a Phenix City business (sorry, I don't know which one). Superintendent Larry DiChiara says the closest law officer to the scene of the holdup was a "resource officer" for South Girard School. A resource officer?! Is that what they call a library guard these days?

The South Girard School officer went after the robbers - and somehow word spread that the school was on lockdown. That word was NOT true, but the Westview Elementary principal apparently believed it and went into a lockdown on her own. When in doubt, don't let anybody out....

It's not clear if the robbers ever were found, but the Westview lockdown eventually ended. This was one time when the faculty probably also took a north, east and south view first.

Later in the day, Phenix City Central High School was placed under lockdown. At first it seemed to be related to Westview, but it turned out to be a completely different concern - rumors of a pistol on the school grounds. How ARE they starting the races at track meets now, anyway?

Superintendent Larry DiChiara says a one-hour search was conducted at Central High School - but NO gun was found anywhere. Maybe someone misunderstood a comment from a student, about a locker being a "pest-hole."

Yet here's the thing: a Phenix City parent told me later the Superintendent was the one spreading false information. I'm assuming this mother voted against the school sales tax, too....

This mother claimed "pot and a gun" WERE found in the high school sweep. She based this claim on words from an anonymous Central High senior. I should have asked if the senior was "anonymous," because he/she was the one with the marijuana.

Yet wasn't there another lockdown at Phenix City Central a few months ago? Why yes, there was - and I heard rumors that day about someone being chased in the halls with a weapon. It turned out to be a construction worker hitting a power line, and knocking out the electricity. But then again, maybe his supervisor got angry and grabbed a hammer....

It would have helped if the Phenix City Board of Education had posted something online for parents to check. But when we called up the district's web site Wednesday night, the lockdowns were nowhere to be found. Why not post the truth quickly, to stop the rumormongers? Or at least limit the rumors to winning tickets in Indonesian lotteries?

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now to Muscogee County schools....

I thought the discipline for the child in middle school who showed up with green strands in her hair on St.Paddy's day was a little harsh...I believe in a dress code. I believe in discipline,but putting the child in ISS didn't fit the crime..

If you're not aware, ISS stands for "in-school suspension" - it is NOT a division of the federal Department of Homeland Security.

But if we allow green-tinted hair for Saint Patrick's Day, where does this trend stop? Red hair for Valentine's Day? Green and red for Xmas? Blue hair at sports events, such as - no wait. Columbus High School students have done that for years.

Back to Phenix City now, for a question from Wednesday's topic:

I keep hearing that Phenix City will move the people from the riverfront land area,,, where too.??

I'm not absolutely sure about this. But I thought I heard something about new low-income housing being built near Ladonia. The Waffle House and Fred's store already are built on U.S. 80, waiting for them.

Now a quick check of other Wednesday news -- or at least the things worth joking about:

+ NeighborWorks Columbus announced a new program to help public safety employees buy their first homes. For every dollar employees save in an account, NeighborWorks will contribute three. I hereby invite the NeighborWorks staff to play poker with me sometime....

+ More than 700 Columbus-area children received new pairs of shoes, in an annual giveaway by the "Controllers Civic and Social Club." With a name like Controllers, it's a wonder no one's reported this group to Dr. Phil for intervention.

+ An Atlanta blog reported a Georgia state lawmaker wore a hidden microphone for a year, as part of a federal corruption investigation. OK, so what Buckhead nightclubs did everybody visit?

+ Instant Message to GPB Television: Yeow - a "My Music" fund-raiser for the third night in a row?! Why don't you take the children's programs off the air, and become an oldies version of MTV?

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: An e-mail challenges us to do some fact-checking.... on another e-mailer....

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 729 (+ 30, 4.3%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 18: 2.65 miles jogged, 0.5 walked. Total: 55.70 miles run, 8.85 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Well, well - it looks like Phenix City will have room at the top after all. But who could have guessed a year ago that the City Manager would stay, while the Mayor is going?

Phenix City Mayor Jeff Hardin said Tuesday he will NOT run for a second term, confirming a report in the Russell County "Redneckin'" blog. The mayor said he has other dreams to pursue. Now if Congressman Mike Rogers please will step aside, and allow him to do that....

I'm hearing Jeff Hardin decided against running for re-election because he believes Phenix City needs a full-time mayor, but the City Council only wants to pay for a part-time position. Isn't it amazing how local government often works exactly the opposite of pro football?

As of Tuesday, no one had announced a campaign for Phenix City Mayor. And come to think of it, it's not too late for Constable Robert Schweiger to rent a house there and run for the job. Schweiger still could live full-time in Hurtsboro -- and he'd simply be following the City Manager's example.

Jeff Hardin's years as Phenix City Mayor have included several memorable moments. Perhaps the biggest tension resulted from his effort to abolish the City Manager's office. If he had run for a second term, it might have turned into a "de facto" referendum on the City Manager - with opponents boldly declaring, "A vote for e is a vote for Bubba."

A new hospital has opened in Phenix City during Jeff Hardin's years as mayor - a hospital which quickly had cutbacks, and a sale to Columbus doctors. But at least the Riverchase exit from the North Bypass might be named in his honor. You know, the Hardin right turn....

But one campaign promise keeps sticking to my brain, when I think of Mayor Jeff Hardin. He made a big issue of bringing a movie theater back to Phenix City. He may wind up doing well, to have an open Movie Gallery store.

The potentially biggest legacy of Jeff Hardin's years as mayor took a step forward Tuesday. The Phenix City Council voted to spend more than one million extra city dollars, to buy a triangle-shaped property near the Chattahoochee River. It means the end of the Riverview Apartments - to be replaced by condos with a view much "higher" in more ways than one.

"We took a bold move," Mayor Jeff Hardin told WRBL after the decision to buy "The Triangle." He admitted the price seems high, but he called it a long-term investment in downtown Phenix City. Those used car lots only seem to have sat along 14th Street for decades....

The Triangle property eventually will be turned over to Troy University, for a downtown Phenix City business school. Curtis Pitts with Troy admitted it will be difficult raising more than six million dollars for that school right now. When the University of Alabama has to postpone expanding the football stadium [True/AP], you know the economy's tight.

Critics of this sale argue the riverfront land should be left for private development, which will bring Phenix City property tax money. But at least The Phenixian high-rise condominium building will be built - and with Tuesday's City Council vote to raise water rates, maybe the residents can be encouraged to start rooftop gardens.

E-MAIL UPDATE: While we're in Russell County....


Recently R.J. Schweiger took me to small claims court because he claimed that his horse ate something on my property and got sick. Well, I decided that I wasn't going to allow him to harass me the way he has others so I counterclaimed against him using the Alabama Litigation Accountability Act.

Schweiger sued me for $200.00 plus the cost ($70.00) of filing in small claims. I countersued him for over $300.00 and was awarded $250.00. If he does not pay the money that he owes me soon I am going to put a lien on the barn he lives in or the maybe truck he drives.

I hope that others in Hurtsboro follow my lead and stop this trouble making tyrant in his tracks. There are several in town that could easily win defamation suits against Schweiger. I am even considering it myself based on past accusations that Schweiger has made regarding me....


Former resident of Hurtsboro,

Sam Smith

There's a section of this message that we've been asked NOT to release for the time being. But don't worry, residents of Hurtsboro -- this former police officer is NOT going after the interim chief, over those speeding tickets.

But wow - Constable Robert Schweiger even takes legal action over sick horses?! I'm a bit surprised he hasn't built a tall fence all around his property, to keep the corrupt citizens of Hurtsboro away. That's what some religious cult leaders do, you know....

The InBox also has a response to the latest big issue in Little League. No, not that beach party -- the topic from Tuesday:


My child has the same pair of pants and stood up to the 3 times i washed them.That dirt is no joke. The first time I washed them you could not even tell I washed them. Then I used bleach. It said not to ...but I did anyway. Helped a little but the red dirt was still there. So I took the advice of another mom and bought this

WOW they stood up to rust cleaner. Soak em outside because that stuff stinks real bad.

The inside of DCR sports is real messy!!! I kept having the urge to tell the guy that worked there to WORK. They have a pitching machine you can use for 15 an hour. But it was broken so im not real sure why we went. And maybe that mess caused us to get the wrong pair of socks that must have been made for Goliath and the wrong hat.

Can you ask your readers in the know if Ron Harris has been back?

You worked at CNN! Did you ever wanna pop Larrys suspenders?


Isn't this amazing? You start a humor blog about the news, and it turns into Hints from Heloise....

And here I thought there was no such thing as a wrong-sized pair of socks. Especially not in baseball - where the knee-high look can be old-fashioned and cutting-edge modern at the same time.

Ron Harris is the former Pioneer Little League board member, who was arrested over the winter on sexual exploitation charges. To clear up one rumor: we're told he no longer works at a Columbus computer game business, which young people might frequent. In fact, the only computer game Harris might want to play for a while is online poker.

I never met Larry King during my years at CNN Center. And I certainly would NOT have been tempted to snap his suspenders - especially nowadays. The impact might seriously hurt that guy.

Now for some other highlights from the [CORRECTED] next-to-last day of winter, which seemed more like a day in spring....

+ Senator Saxby Chambliss stopped in Columbus, to confirm he's running for re-election. Chambliss was joined by Georgia's other Senator, Johnny Isakson - which I think means they're car-pooling, due to high gas prices.

+ Construction began in South Commons on the new city skateboard park. I'm a bit surprised the groundbreaking ceremony didn't get the skateboarders involved - maybe by having them ride down 20-foot-tall shovel handles.

(Columbus Council approved an application for a skateboard park grant, from the Tony Hawk Foundation. When a champion skateboarder has his own foundation, it makes me wonder if I should change investment plans.)

+ The national teacher of the year visited Columbus State University. Andrea Davidson told WLTZ she works by the "new three R's" - which are rigor, relationships and relevance. Considering she teaches music to elementary school students, the set with arithmetic admittedly doesn't make quite as much sense.

+ A wildfire developed at Fort Benning, near Roosevelt Range. A strong south wind spread smoke from the fire across Columbus - and that combined with pine pollen should have made gas mask sales double.

+ The evening news reported Lake Martin is almost full, thanks to winter rains. But overseers warn another summer of drought is in the forecast - so please continue drinking your alcoholic beverages at full strength until further notice.

+ Instant Message to the woman at the Georgia Power window downtown: Thank you. You were ethical and honest. You could have noticed I'd written two checks for the same electric bill, put one in your pocket and never said a thing. Instead, you made me concerned I might be developing Alzheimer's disease.

To offer a story tip, make a PayPal donation, advertise to our readers or comment on this blog, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 699 (+ 25, 3.7%)

TRUDGE REPORT, DAY 17: 1.45 miles jogged, 0.45 walked. Total: 53.05 miles run, 8.35 walked

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

© 2003-08 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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