Friday, October 30, 2009

30 OCT 09: Jay Gets His Way

It appears there's a new heavyweight champion of car sales in Columbus -- and he has the truly Southern name of Stetzenmuller. Part of me wonders why he didn't stage an Oktoberfest sale along Whittlesey Road in the last few weeks.

Jay Stetzenmuller's Jay Auto Group has reached an agreement to take over 51-percent ownership of Rob Doll Nissan. Doll will control the other 49 percent - the sort of power-sharing agreement you'd think a hard-core Republican like Doll would oppose.

If a bankruptcy court judge approves in December, the current Rob Doll Nissan dealership on Box Road probably will close. Nissan sales would move to the site of Saturn of Columbus, which was scheduled to close next October [2 Oct]. The tongue-twister of the day at that location will be, "Souvenir Saturns will sell for a song."

I'm declaring Jay Stetzenmuller the heavyweight champion because the name of the new dealership could be "Jay Nissan." Rob Doll's name will NOT be on it - and I get the feeling the next time you hear Cissy Doll's voice, she'll be endorsing a Republican candidate for the state legislature.

The announcement of a Stetzenmuller-Doll partnership should end a rumor which spread across Columbus over the last couple of months. One man told me the buyer of Rob Doll Nissan might be one of Bill Heard's sons. But then again, this man worked at an independent car repair shop - so I trusted that rumor about as much as his advice about needing extra service.

Jay Stetzenmuller seems confident the bankruptcy judge will approve the joint ownership with Rob Doll. He told THE 5:00 p.m. news his Columbus dealerships are high in "C.S.I." In car-speak, that means the customer satisfaction index. If you want a new car from the Jay Auto Group, it certainly doesn't mean Columbus South Inc.

(If that argument fails, Jay Stetzenmuller can make an even better argument in bankruptcy court - that this agreement will be like a Nissan hybrid.)

The news reports of this agreement left me puzzled about one big detail. What will happen to the new Rob Doll Nissan building, which sits unfinished on Whitesville Road? Jay Stetzenmuller doesn't seem interested in it. So with a few modifications, the opportunity is there for Columbus's next megachurch.

The news about Nissan wasn't the only business headline in Columbus Thursday. Aflac announced it's freezing "merit raises" for all executives, until sales improve. The reason for this slump should be obvious - and Carl Edwards had better win this weekend's NASCAR race at Talladega.

But the sunniest business story Thursday was the grand opening of the new NCR plant in the Corporate Ridge Industrial Park. NCR used to be shorthand for National Cash Register. Now the initials mean "New to Columbus Real estate."

The NCR automated teller plant opened less than five months after the big announcement that the company's headquarters was moving from Ohio to suburban Atlanta. This makes the Kia construction work in West Point look so slow, it's no wonder Kia doesn't enter race cars in big events.

The NCR plant has 120 employees on the job already. Based on the TV news clips, they have to wear white coats on the job. Is this some kind of subtle message to President Obama that they support health care reform?

Not everything is complete at the NCR plant yet. Executives say about 30 more employees will be hired by the end of the year, and a "connector" will be built between two buildings at the complex - the first major development of this sort in Columbus since Warm Springs Connector.

Remember what Mike Gaymon said about economic recovery in Columbus several months ago? The Chamber of Commerce President said Columbus would come out of recession ahead of the rest of the country. Since government data Thursday indicated the U.S. recession ended between July and September, when did it happen here? When the Columbus Woodbats season opened in June?

-> Our Wednesday night poker game didn't turn out anything like we planned. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Now for a comment about Wednesday's Blog Exclusive....

Just read your blog on the fireworks issue. I agree 100% and I hope they allow them. The kids deserve it and the fans, including my kids, love it. Also thanks for the link to the video.

Keep up the good work

Mitchell Holt

Thanks to his e-mail address, we can provide full disclosure and tell you he's COACH Mitchell Holt. He's an Assistant Coach with the Phenix City Central softball team -- a team which would be happy simply to see a few marching band members playing instruments at home games.

Phenix City Central is on the road tonight at Wetumpka, as the Alabama high school football regular season ends. So Monday's City Council work session apparently will be the next step in this controversy -- what I'm now calling the "Phenix Friday Football Fireworks Flap."

Phenix City's other high school football team ended a disappointing season Thursday night. Glenwood lashed Lakeside 20-13, to wind up 1-9. Maybe the Gators need to shoot off fireworks at games next season - to scare the opposition.

Let's finish this "skinny post" with a check of other Thursday news....

+ Dick McMichael's blog revealed all the Democratic candidates for Georgia Governor were in Columbus this week, for a fundraising dinner. McMichael wondered why the "mainstream media" didn't give the event much attention. Maybe they checked the ratings for Fox News Channel, and decided to drop that liberal left-wing bias.

+ Georgia School Superintendent (and Republican) Kathy Cox visited Columbus. She even taught a history class at Jordan High School. Given the fact that Cox and her husband filed bankruptcy papers earlier this year, let's be thankful she didn't teach mathematics.

+ Phenix City School Superintendent Larry DiChiara announced Alabama state bond money will be used to build a new elementary school. Countless residents who voted against a recent school sales tax had a three-word response to this - "told you so."

+ Evening newscasts returned to the Bibb Mill, as today marks one year since the disastrous fire. Property owner Brent Buck told WLTZ it could take six more months to remove all the debris from the site. Apparently the mill was too far away from the Chattahoochee River to qualify for "Help the Hooch" weekend.

+ Instant Message to anyone who may have been confused by our Monday post: I'll repeat what I told a phone caller Thursday. Power Frisbee of Georgia was a sport. It has never been connected with Georgia Power. And we used energy-efficient frisbees, which did not have to be plugged in.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: A submission from a blog reader that's so funny, we may take a day off....

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 456 (+ 13, 2.9%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

29 OCT 09: Mister Dress-Up

The big topic for the day seemed very obvious, and I was all set to jump headlong into it. But then I heard about what President Obama did in Washington, and I had to hit the brakes. If there's one thing I do NOT want to do, it's encourage a hate crime. And I certainly don't have the knowledge to plot the opposite - a love crime.

But anyway: Wednesday brought another example of why some people are upset with public schools. Russell County High School had a "Gender Bender" day - with boys allowed to dress like girls, and girls allowed to dress like boys. The 5:00 p.m. news didn't say if music from the 1960s was played to accompany this.

The mere idea of a Gender Bender Day at high school would scandalize some conservative parents. A few of them might actually quote the Bible verse against women putting on men's garments and vice versa. I wonder how many of them in east Alabama would also dare to quote the verses against eating pork.

But the reason behind Gender Bender Day struck me as even more bizarre. It was part of Red Ribbon Week - the week designed to move young people away from using drugs. Is it really a good idea to drop one weird habit, only to pick up another one?

A Russell County High faculty member explained the point of it all -- that no matter what your gender, it's a healthy idea to be drug-free. Yes, that point makes sense. But do students need to cross-dress for a day to learn that? Is the only alternative hearing another speech from President Obama?

If this is allowed in Russell County for a day, how far will the faculty let it go? You may have heard about the high school girl in Mississippi who posed for her senior yearbook picture in a tuxedo. The school district there will NOT allow the photo to be in the yearbook. If a formal wear shop offered to buy a full-page ad to show her, things might change....

(Before you ask about our link - no, I do NOT think the Mississippi TV station's call letters stand for "We're Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender.")

This topic admittedly took me to my old high school yearbooks. My memory was correct about "Spirit Week" activities leading to the homecoming football game. They included a "powder puff" football game, where girls took the field while boys led cheers in female outfits. I didn't go to that game - and I didn't dress up for "Cowboys and Indians Day," either.

Yes, I know one Columbus charity holds a mock beauty pageant every year with celebrity men dressed as women. If asked to be part of that, I will turn it down. If that makes me an old fuddy-duddy, fine - because I'm starting to reach the age where the "old" label fits.

If Russell County High School had staged an "Ethnic Bender Day" during Red Ribbon Week, the results might have been explosive. I admittedly don't think a day of cross-dressing is any better in 2009. In fact, it might prompt some parents to check the school libraries for hidden copies of "Heather Has Two Mommies."

And I'm VERY doubtful that a day of cross-dressing will steer high school students away from using illegal drugs. Well, unless a Russell County Judge has promised to make cross-dressing in public part of the sentence for first-time drug offenders....

-> Our Wednesday night poker game didn't turn out anything like we planned. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: Another reader wants to comment on WRCG radio adding an FM simulcast....

As a fan of baseball on the radio and a UGA alum I've suffered through the weak evening signal of WRCG. I'm glad for the news of the FM re-transmission and have set a button in my car.

My question is why - "Federal rules currently limit WRCG's AM signal to a nighttime power of 79 watts. That's barely enough to dry your laundry, much less broadcast Atlanta baseball games across a city." ??

Why does the FCC limit the signal at night to what I assume is a lower power than during the day? I'd offer a one world government, mason, Trilateral Commission conspiracy but don't have the energy today.


The "conspiracy" on AM radio is called federal regulation, and it goes back several decades. The Federal Communications Commission requires many stations to reduce power after sundown, so their signals don't interfere with those in other cities [25 Oct]. The sole exception to this in Columbus is WOKS - and this was true long before Sanford Bishop was elected to Congress.

A check online found Georgia has five different stations at 1420 AM, including WRCG. So most of them turn down the power at sunset. But Atlanta's WSB-AM is on a frequency which allows it to broadcast at full-power around the clock. So Neal Boortz has one of the loudest radio voices in the country, even without a network.

Before I power down for the day, let's check other news headlines....

+ The sun came back out in Columbus, but Tuesday's storm left a sinkhole on 12th Street in Phenix City. Thankfully, no high school student decided to throw fireworks down into it.

+ Columbus Councilor Glenn Davis told WXTX News whenever the game ends at Ten he would change his mind about a city Crime Prevention Director if the pay grade is lowered. If a candidate for mayor promised to do that with his own office, a lot of minds would change -- and more people would decide to vote.

+ Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell received an H-1-N-1 flu vaccine, and told WTVM everyone should get one. The sheriff also wanted everyone on his staff to get 20 percent raises a year or two ago - so maybe it's time Boswell put down his gun and run for Congress.

+ Aflac reported its third-quarter earnings were up 23 percent from a year ago, but sales of new policies were down. The sales staff must have mixed emotions about these quarterly reports. Higher insurance revenue could mean potential cancer patients are living longer - but if they're not dying, the chance to scare new customers into sales goes down.

+ Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford was found guilty of all 60 bribery counts against him. He's automatically out of office, faces a possible 805-year prison term - and he may only have one more chance to win money at Victoryland to pay off his attorneys.

+ WTVM showed Carver High School football coach Dell McGee shoving a player, in the middle of the school gym. I didn't catch the reason why he did it. Was he showing how to block somebody - or did the player have a mental block during practice?

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 443 (+ 14, 3.3%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

28 OCT 09: Boom 95 - or Less

What's going on here? Some people in the South are objecting to the shooting of fireworks at a sports event, even though there's a permit to light them. If not for fireworks nights, the stands at Columbus minor league baseball games would be even emptier than they are now....

BLOG EXCLUSIVE: The President of the Phenix City Central Booster Club confirms there's been tension with some city officials about fireworks displays at high school football games. But Chris Blackshear told your blog Tuesday the fireworks have NOT been banned completely. In fact, the next round could come at a City Council work session next Monday - verbally only, I hope.

Chris Blackshear has been the sideline radio reporter for Troy University football for years. He noticed the special effects college teams do after scores, and thought they would be a great addition to Phenix City Central home games. Blackshear wisely resisted the alternative - because scantily-clad dancers on the field would bring back too many bad Phenix City memories.

The Phenix City Central Booster Club didn't have a lot of money, so Chris Blackshear decided to purchase fireworks for two October home games. He says he followed all the rules - getting permission from the police chief, fire chief and Alabama Fire Marshal's office. Trouble is, he apparently failed to get permission from residents near the stadium.

Chris Blackshear says he was approached after the 2 October fireworks display from unnamed "members of the city council." At least one claimed to have received complaints about the noise - even though Blackshear says there were only short blasts before and after the game, as well as after Phenix City Central touchdowns. And Central didn't even come close to the 61 points it scored against Smiths Station.

Chris Blackshear would not reveal which Phenix City Councilors approached him - but one specifically promised to oppose any more fireworks at games unless the Booster Club could "tone down the boom." Some people in Phenix City apparently have moved to the complete opposite of "Pump Up the Jam."

But Chris Blackshear says fans at Garrett-Harrison Stadium love the fireworks displays, and even donated money to the Booster Club for a third night of the blasts during October. Besides, he says two Phenix City Councilors attended the 2 October game when the fireworks were introduced as a surprise. Did they already have earplugs, to sit next to the marching band?

(Blackshear noted the son of City Manager Wallace Hunter plays on the Central football team. Hunter used to be Phenix City Fire Chief - which may explain a scary Senior Night video saluting starting players, which Council members might not want to see.)

Phenix City Central will have a home playoff game 6 November, and Chris Blackshear hopes to achieve a compromise on the fireworks fuss by then. He told me he's talked to Mayor Sonny Coulter in recent days, as well as the main Councilor who voiced an objection. I forgot to ask if anyone uttered the phrase, "Boom goes the dynamite."

Chris Blackshear told me his first goal at next week's Phenix City Council work session will be to "understand their concerns." He didn't seem certain Tuesday about exactly what they were. I'd guess the surprise debut of the fireworks is one issue - with nearby residents fearing Fort Benning had moved a live-fire exercise across the river.

Chris Blackshear knows something about Phenix City government, since he once served on the Planning Commission. But he admitted to me he's frustrated that city officials are debating fireworks at football games, instead of local jobs. If Blackshear could buy the fireworks inside the city limits, he'd have it both ways.

So which Phenix City Councilor came up with that phrase, "tone down the boom?" We called two members late Tuesday for a comment, but neither returned our messages. Maybe they were out of town on business - working out a deal for something bigger with Fireworks Outlet in Seale.

We also called Phenix City Fire Marshal Kris Kennedy, who said rumors of a decision to ban fireworks at football games are "absolutely incorrect." But Kennedy admitted she had no knowledge of this issue - which proves football players aren't the only ones skilled at making "end runs."

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!"<--

BLOG UPDATE: The big vote came Tuesday night at Columbus Council, and.... well, maybe it wasn't really that big. WXTX "News at Ten" decided the top story of the night was the premiere of a documentary about Michael Jackson. A dead king trumps a living Big Chief?!

The Crime Prevention Director's position is NOT dead, but it again fell short of a Columbus Council majority. Five Councilors were for it. Four were against it. And absent Gary Allen needs to explain to his bosses exactly when these council meetings happen.

Mayor Pro-Tem Evelyn Turner Pugh explained she's in favor of crime prevention, but is NOT convinced a director's office is needed to achieve it. Did Columbus Council have this same debate years ago, about creating a Mayor Pro-Tem office?

Councilor Jerry Barnes said outside the meeting he's tired of months of "waffling" on the Crime Prevention Office. If all else fails, Barnes will set up crime prevention displays inside all fire stations.

Mayor Jim Wetherington isn't giving up on the Crime Prevention Office, but he's delayed another vote on it indefinitely. He was annoyed that some Councilors wanted to set up a Crime Prevention Board, without a director. Maybe if he changed the title to czar....

If you're looking for a 2010 campaign issue, mayoral candidate Wayne Anthony voted for the Crime Prevention Office. Rumored candidate Skip Henderson voted against it. And Teresa Tomlinson will take any seat on a Crime Prevention Board she can find.

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION is back with a requested question, somewhat tied to Tuesday night's Council vote. Should all local incumbents on the 2010 ballot be voted out of office - both Council and School Board members? We should note one Council member is a rumored candidate for Mayor. So Skip Henderson may use your vote to "walk the plank" to jump to the top of the ship.

Let's see what else fell around us Tuesday, besides a lot of rain:

+ TV journalist Susanna Avery told your blog the Columbus Times was wrong in its most recent issue - and she is NOT becoming a news anchor at WTVM. In response to an e-mail question, Avery theorized the newspaper confused her appearance at a recent event with Greg Funderburg. Why, of course -- since the two look so much alike.

(Avery actually anchors "The Benning Report" on CCG-TV, with news items about the Army. Ask her about "bric-a-brac," and she might explain the difference between the National Infantry Museum and base realignment.)

+ RiverCenter Executive Director Enoch Morris revealed on WDAK's "Viewpoint" the late entertainer Robert Goulet required two dressing rooms for his performances -- and one had to be exactly like Goulet's living room. It makes me wonder if the staff rolled in a Char-Broil grill, to take the place of a fireplace.

+ Alabama Governor Bob Riley praised a Jefferson County judge's ruling that electronic bingo games really are illegal slot machines. Riley declared simply pressing a button for a six-second game is NOT real bingo. Alabamians running fantasy football leagues should be concerned, because they might be next.

+ WRBL played a video clip of Auburn football coach Gene Chizik, in which he reveals receiver Kodie Burns lost two teeth in the loss to Louisiana State. John Madden coined the famous football phrase, "One knee equals two feet." Now we know two teeth equal a third loss.

+ Instant Message to GPB News: Wow, your Twitter feed surprises me right now. From listening to the radio, I'd think all the news in Georgia had stopped until your pledge drive was over.

Today's main topic was the result of a blog reader's tip. To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 429 (+ 12, 2.9%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

27 OCT 09 (FINAL): Stray Cat?

You never know what you'll see when you go for a morning jog. I definitely saw a first Monday morning - when I ran past someone who appeared to be an escaped state prison inmate on the Riverwalk. I mean, I doubt they give away "STATE PRISONER" jackets to people leaving for good behavior.

I jogged by this man shortly after 9:00 a.m. between South Commons and Port Columbus. A wooden bridge connects the two areas on the Riverwalk. When I entered the west end of the bridge, I saw the man at the east end - and the jacket lettering was obvious that far away. So I apparently don't need my glasses checked for the next year....

Would you have been scared by the sight of the words "State Prisoner" across the bridge? Actually, I wasn't. Prison work crews like to get an early start, cutting grass and clearing weeds along the Riverwalk. As long as I didn't have to breathe in too much grass pollen and gasoline fumes, I could keep jogging.

The mystery man walked east ahead of me, so I jogged on. If he had turned around and approached me, things might have been different. And if he had pointed a Weed-Whacker toward me like he wanted to hold a sword fight, it REALLY would have been different.

A steep grass embankment is on the left, when you reach the east end of the wooden bridge. As I jogged there, I noticed the man walking up that embankment - then turning around and coming back down, only a couple of feet from the top. If this was a state prisoner attempting a getaway, he hadn't spent enough time in the weight room.

Moments later, my jogging caught me up with the walking man. At that point I noticed the bald five-foot-nine man had nothing in his hands -- and no prison work crew anywhere around him. Somehow I don't think Rutledge State Prison is training land surveyor scouts these days....

"How're you doing?" the man wearing a standard-issue white jacket asked quietly as I passed him on the left. Wow - a State Prisoner who's actually rather polite, and on a Monday morning at that.

"I'm getting my workout," I replied without breaking my stride. "And when I'm through, I'll be calling." The man laughed a little at those words, so I repeated: "I'll be calling." Maybe he laughed because I'm too old-fashioned to own a cell phone, and carry it with me when I run.

With that said, I ran on without looking back. The man said nothing more, and did NOT try to chase me. If he had tried, I'm not sure what might have happened. I'd built up a one-mile head of steam at that point....

Two-tenths of a mile down the Riverwalk, I came across a man carrying fishing gear near the riverbank. Now it was time to break stride, and run in place for a moment. "Do you have a cell phone? There's a possible prison escapee back there, about a tenth of a mile."

"I left it in my truck," the man said. Silly me - he could have been taking a day off from his wife.

The fisherman promised to go to his truck and call 911, so I jogged on to a turnaround point and headed back toward home. It wound up being a two-mile non-stop (well, not slowing to a walk) run - and there was no sign of the mystery man as I walked and jogged home. Maybe he finally found the strength to climb that mountain.

As the jog home reached the Golden Park area, I came upon three female walkers. "Be careful, ladies," I said to them. "We may have a prison escapee out here."

"We saw him!" one of the women said. She told me she was carrying a cell phone -- but apparently did not think it might be an escapee. She must have thought a prison guard was hiding behind a bush.

I hurried home from the morning run, then did what I promised. First came a call to 911, then an extra-early post here about what I had seen. But the 12:00 noon news never mentioned any escaped prisoners. And as the afternoon went on, I started to wonder. Maybe I should call Rutledge State Prison, I said -- in case the man had gone to District Attorney Julia Slater to seek asylum.

That's when things really became puzzling. Rutledge State Prison reported NO recent escapees or walkaways. An employee there directed me to the Muscogee County Jail, where I was transferred as high as the assistant warden. He said work detail inmates don't wear white jackets, but blue jackets with white letters. They can blend in with Columbus High School students that way.

The jail had no reports of escaped inmates, either. So who did I pass on the Riverwalk? A Russell County prisoner, who swam across the Chattahoochee? Someone who bought one of those controversial look-alike inmate outfits years ago at Goody's? Or was that guy a surprise guest at the Bulldog Bait & Tackle Halloween party?

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!"<--

E-MAIL UPDATE: We told the former host of "Talkline" about the new FM simulcast of WRCG-AM. Lo and behold, Doug Kellett wanted to talk about it....

Thanks for the mention in your blog about WRCG...Personally, I think management is in a tough situation that all radio finds itself in at this point. Do you invest money into programming BEFORE revenues increase or do you hope that revenue increases and then improve programming as it goes along. While all stations hate to hear this but the truth is you must invest first. Hopefully, the environment will improve for WRCG and all stations in Columbus. At lot of the PDs that I work with around the country tell me that radio revenues are improving and they expect next year to be a good one. Joseph Brannan and Jim Martin are working hard to bring WRCG back to a standard that you documented. The move to an FM frequency is certainly important. I wish that Scott Miller and I had pushed even harder than we did when the McClure's purchased Boomer 95.3 to put WRCG programming on it. The question at the time was "what would we do with the AM frequency?" At that time, sports radio wasn't as popular as it is now so management didn't consider that a good option. I believe that WRCG would

1) Never had lost Rush had that happened because the rights owner could only move Rush from WRCG to another station IF it had a better signal. 95.3 FM would have easily been stronger than WDAK.

2) Would have solidified WRCG as the sole News/Talk station in the market and there would be no WDAK as N/T.

3) Provided great coverage for Braves baseball and Georgia football.

Had this happened, the revenues would have been tremendous in my opinion. News/Talk continues to be the top revenue producer in the nation because you can sell results more than ratings and talk personalities provided the best people to pitch the product.

Eventually all N/T will be on FM or something similar and the first guy into the market usually wins.

Thanks for staying in touch!


To clear up a little radio slang: a "PD" is a radio station Program Director. But I'm sure Doug Kellett also is willing to work with Police Departments, as long as they don't pull him over for speeding.

Sports radio may be popular in some cities, but we've asked here before if Columbus can handle two sports stations. Davis Broadcasting won the race to FM in that category, by changing WIOL-FM 95.7 this month -- and maybe one of these days, they'll get around to mentioning it on the WEAM-AM web site.

But I disagree with Doug Kellett on what might have happened in recent years to WDAK. I remember when that station was the alleged "Sports Monster," with hardly any listeners. Clear Channel probably would have changed it to news-talk, anyway - airing almost all the hosts WRCG does now, only with more AM listeners able to hear them.

Now for some items which actually made the talk of the news Monday:

+ Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants had a free grilled chicken giveaway. Of course I took advantage of this - but was stunned to find the Stadium Drive location in Phenix City does NOT serve grilled chicken. Is it too close to a football stadium or something?

+ A judge in Columbus allowed Rob Doll to make his auto dealership payroll, while working on a plan to get out of bankruptcy. We haven't heard much about Doll's wife in awhile, which proves bankruptcy filings aren't for Cissies.

+ Police in the Atlanta suburb of East Point reported burglars broke into a storage building, and stole seven tiny cars driven by Shriners in parades. I didn't know hybrid car sales had picked up again.

(There's no word of any arrests in this case -- but if some adult tries to talk your children into a winner-take-all soap box derby, call 911.)

+ Pam Fair with the Columbus Health Department told WRBL fewer than 200 people have shown up to receive H-1-N-1 flu vaccine. Once people find out we have hundreds of doses to spare, there could be a reverse junket of drug buses from Canada and Mexico.

+ Alabama head football coach Nick Saban and his wife announced a $250,000 donation to a children's hospital in Birmingham. This money should be used to help patients eat well - and the children who eat the most will be recruited to be offensive linemen.

+ Alabama kick-blocker Terrence Cody was named Southeastern Conference defensive lineman of the week. Now Tennessee fans are sure Saturday's game was fixed -- because Cody removed his helmet in the final seconds, yet won a league award anyway.

+ Troy head football coach Larry Blakeney visited the Columbus Quarterback Club. He told WTVM plans are in the works for a series of games against Navy. Huh?! Put Army on the schedule, play the "home game" in Columbus and.... well, hold it. It might not feel like a Troy home game anymore.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 417 (+ 10, 2.5%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

UPDATE 1....

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Monday, October 26, 2009

26 OCT 09: Discs So Dead

Columbus High School won a Georgia state softball title over the weekend. Calvary Christian finished second in the GISA state volleyball championship. But did you hear about the national award a Columbus-based sport has just received? Apparently I'm the only one to hear about it - which makes sense, since I'm the one who tried to start it.

SPAM-A-RAMA: It was quite a surprise to learn via e-mail last week that I won an award - and not for blogging:

I am pleased to announce that Power Frisbee Of Georgia has been selected for the 2009 Best of Columbus Award in the Sports category by the US Commerce Association.

In recognition of your achievement, a 2009 Best of Columbus Award has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly to Power Frisbee Of Georgia by following the simple steps on the 2009 Best of Columbus Award order form....

Each year, the US Commerce Association (USCA) identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Astounding! Power Frisbee was selected over the Columbus Cottonmouths, Lions and Woodbats. It even topped the Steeplechase at Callaway - which I presume received the award in the Best Hats category.

There's only one small problem with this award - and long-time readers of this blog already know what it is. Power Frisbee of Georgia has been out of business for more than three years. In fact, the blog set up for Power Frisbee was unplugged from the web several weeks ago to save energy.

If you're not aware, I tried to fulfill a long-time dream by starting a new sports idea across Georgia in 2006. Power Frisbee was designed to be one-on-one competition on a football field. But something unexpected happened - the "one-on-ones" didn't really show up. Frisbee throwers simply were too team-conscious, and apparently don't own any Terrell Owens posters.

Power Frisbee's opening season was stopped after three rounds, due to a lack of interest and a pair of tire blowouts as I drove to matches. But for some reason, the sports league is still listed in some business directories. C'mon, guys -- the city business license payments stopped years ago.

Those directory listings must explain why the U.S. Commerce Association would give an award to a dead sports league. Yet the association's web site says award winners are "determined by the marketing success of your company in your local community." One radio and one TV appearance in Columbus in 2006 went farther than I ever imagined.

(Yet the U.S. Commerce Association prepared an online press release, which I could use to promote my Best of Columbus award. Apparently they think I'm too busy writing commercials for the business to write a promotional statement for the Ledger-Enquirer.)

So is there a catch behind this award? Of course there is. The "contact us" page at the U.S. Commerce Association web site explains while I don't have to join the group, the group expects me to buy the plaque. A plaque which would be about as valuable as the faux Oscar I bought at Universal Studios in Orlando years ago....

So I appreciate the U.S. Commerce Association's interest in me - but I'll settle for a nice picture of my plaque as my computer screen background. And should your business receive one of these "Best of Columbus" awards, please let me know. Maybe we can set up a "Hall of Fame" display with photos of mock plaques on Flickr.

The "Best of Columbus" award I'd appreciate much more is one from the Ledger-Enquirer. Members of the public vote on those. But I don't think the newspaper's ever had one for the best blog - perhaps to prevent Sonya Sorich's "The Walk of Shame" from being put in that very place.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!"<--

E-MAIL UPDATE: We mentioned this can of food Sunday, and it stirred up one reader's appetite....

Richard...maybe you should have people vote on what they think is in the can of "pork with juices"...Vienna Sausages,chitterlings (don't even know if spelling is correct),a big chunk of fatback,pickled pigs' feet... and other pork eatables...After the votes are in open the can and let us know what won...

Normally I'm open to suggestions like this -- but I'm sorry, NOT this time. I'm not a poker pork eater, so the can is going to a shelter. And thanks to those juices, I don't have to throw in a spare can of tomato sauce.

The industrial can of "pork with juices" has an ingredient list - but all it says is: "Pork, salt." It also has a nutrition box, which shows the pork provides NO vitamin C. So the juices inside must not be orange or cranberry....

Let's see what else was cooking on Sunday:

+ Columbus Police told WTVM a woman answered the door at her home near Munson Drive at 2:00 a.m. Three women outside then beat her up. C'mon, ladies -- there are better ways to get a new purse for Sunday church services.

+ A three-day "Live United" boot camp for young people concluded. A dozen seventh-graders spent the weekend learning about local United Way projects, and how they could volunteer to help. These students may not know in a few years, their interest in serving will increase - as they have to meet a community service requirement to get a high school diploma.

+ The Atlanta Falcons were downed by Dallas 37-21. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said before the game a win over Atlanta would prove his team is "legitimate." A new billion-dollar stadium apparently only gets you so far in Texas....

(The Dallas defense sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan four times. And to make matters worse, the defenders didn't use reusable cloth bags to do it.)

+ Instant Message to Arizona Cardinals linebacker Karlos Dansby: Yes, I noticed that. During the Sunday night football player introductions, you said you were from "Woodlawn High School" in Birmingham. Did a three-game losing streak by Auburn University turn you THAT much against your alma mater?

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 407 (- 27, 6.2%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

25 OCT 09: Did God Get the Boot?

If you were bored Saturday, it wasn't because groups around the area didn't try. Peachtree Mall had a finger football tournament. Columbus State University held a team dodgeball tournament. And Loachapoka had its annual "syrup-sopping" celebration -- which ought to be sponsored by some brand of paper towels.

Saturday would have been the day for God Bless Fort Benning - but this year, things were different. The date was moved away from SOA Watch weekend. Uptown Columbus took over the celebration of soldiers. And the name was changed to Boots on Broadway. Doesn't that name sound like it belongs on a country music concert at the RiverCenter?

From the clips I saw on the late-night news, Boots on Broadway did NOT appear to draw a big crowd. It certainly didn't have the publicity that God Bless Fort Benning received in recent years, when Eve "Tidwell and friends" made you feel almost un-American if you didn't show up. Maybe all the patriots have moved on to Tea Party protests.

(Did you notice the Columbus Trade Center had one of its regular gun shows open, during Boots on Broadway? Maybe next year, the promoters will bring some REALLY big guns to town for this event - like tanks.)

Boots on Broadway was advertised to last from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. But when I jogged down Broadway around 7:45 Saturday night, I only saw one soldier in uniform - walking and embracing his sweetheart. Perhaps the rest had been redeployed to downtown bars, to monitor critical college football games.

(Uptown Columbus built a web site for Boots on Broadway. While it's fancy, it has little information - and if you click on the link, you'll find this blog was first to leave a comment in the guest book. Aren't soldiers given instructions today about manners, and sending thank-you notes?)

I went downtown during the lunch hour Thursday, hoping to visit the God Bless Fort Benning office - you know, the one which promised all sorts of services for soldiers [16 Nov 07]. But it's gone, and the staff at a loan office on Broadway had no idea where it was. That's what happens when a big public service event has plenty of sponsors.

So where did God Bless Fort Benning go? The answer came Friday from a former president of the event. Bob Poydasheff told me the program has "metamorphosized" into the new "Community of Heroes." Let's see Mayor Jim Wetherington even try to say the word metamorphosized....

Bob Poydasheff led God Bless Fort Benning for three years, then decided to let someone else take it over. His replacement was Chamber of Commerce executive Harold Bryant, who died last Sunday. "He was only 67," Poydasheff said sadly. When you're 79 years old, you can put the word "only" next to 67.

Bob Poydasheff said since Harold Bryant worked for the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, the Community of Heroes program was moved there. Poydasheff explained that meant "no capital" needed to be spent on a physical office. But I suppose soldiers had to spend extra money for gasoline, trying to find the new location.

A few people were distressed by the change of name from God Bless Fort Blessing to Boots on Broadway. They fear it's another case of God being removed from the public spotlight - and it might even open the door for Fred Phelps's followers to organize a "God Smite Fort Benning" event next fall.

"That's nonsense," Bob Poydasheff answered when I asked about the removal of God's name from the event's name. He said there's nothing to stop people from honoring God at such events - and he noted the military has members from a wide range of faiths, including Islam. Before Christians become scandalized by that news, consider two words: double agent.

Bob Poydasheff says the idea behind Community of Heroes is to expand beyond one big bash on Broadway, to a year-round effort to honor soldiers. This includes work with Fort Benning's Wounded Warrior program - but if its motto is "warriors never quit," why did Poydasheff step aside as President? Is he an old soldier who's simply fading away?

God Bless Fort Benning still has a web site, which hasn't been updated in a year. Enjoy it while you can -- because the late-night news indicated Uptown Columbus wants to work with Fort Benning to make Boots on Broadway an annual event. The "God Bless" part may disappear -- or at least left to local churches in early July.

Oh yes -- I know what some of you are saying. Bob Poydasheff used to be mayor of Columbus. Yes, I asked THAT question. I was not the first to ask it. In fact, he says more people are suggesting he run in 2010 than ever before. Given his record, somehow I doubt many of those people are public safety officers.

Bob Poydasheff appreciates the interest - but says his wife set some rules for another mayoral campaign. He has to have 25,000 names on petitions. And on top of that, he has to receive a check for $125,000. I should have asked Poydasheff if he's buying any Mega Millions lottery tickets, and holding blank sheets of paper while in line.

Bob Poydasheff admits he's in good health, but he'll turn 80 years old next year. Considering Mayor Jim Wetherington is 72, some might say they want to trade up....

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!"

E-MAIL UPDATE: We told you Friday about WRCG-AM adding an FM simulcast. A station manager saw that post, and sent us two e-mails with updated details....


A follow up to your post - the Translator is at 250 watts co-located on one of our tall towers in mid-Phenix City.

In driving the new signal at 250 watts, we can hear it to at least 3 miles south of Hamilton (haven't gotten a report further north yet) and out to the east side of Box Springs in Talbot County....

Also of note - FM at night is not as susceptible to the interference that AM's are. FM is purely a line-of-site transmission method, if you generally aren't in line of sight of the tower, you can't hear it. However, AM is ground-wave based - allowing the signal to travel much further at night as it bounces between the ground and ionosphere - so at night your radio is unable to distinguish between the various AM stations and you hear noise.

So all that being said, on the FM it will be as clear at night as it is during the day to the same distances.


A signal of 250 watts certainly beats 10 -- and it shows radio station managers are like some politicians. They're hungry for more power.

Someone told me Friday he suspects there's something more to this WRCG simulcast. This man dared to bring up Doug Kellett's name again, saying the talk show host wanted to be on FM if he was going to return to Columbus radio. But when we notified Kellett of the simulcast, he didn't seem to know it had started. And maybe PMB Broadcasting simply wants people to hear their station's commercials.

Another reader goes back to last Wednesday, and the complaints by some parents at Muscogee Elementary School:

I wonder how many of the parents complaining about cold school lunches actually pay for their kid's lunch? I have absolutely no problem with free or reduced lunches for children..That food actually gets into the kid and the parents can't swap $10 of food stamps for a six pack of beer...While visiting in a local hospital several years ago a man told about his little country store that was making him rich..He would swap $10 worth of stamps for a pack of smokes and $20 for a six pack of beer..He seemed to think it was ok,"because others were doing it." .I didn't know his name or the location of his store,but just thought here goes another rip off..

I received a free bag of groceries recently, with something Southern residents might consider even more valuable than those things. What's my bid for a 24-ounce industrial can of "pork with juices"?

Now let's see what else people are doing on this busy weekend:

+ Which local pastor said during a sermon: "Doctors don't build your faith; doctors destroy your faith"? We may have found the first congregation to claim the religious exemption, and bail out of health care reform.

+ Kia workers prepared their first Sorrento at the new West Point plant. WTVM reports it will be placed on display at the plant, while a formal "roll-out" ceremony won't take place until mid-November - allowing three weeks to determine if that first car needs to be recalled.

+ Baker High School alumni held a reunion and fund-raiser called "Restore the Roar." But what does it say when the event is held at a hot dog restaurant - and that restaurant is on the other side of Columbus from the old Baker High School? Apparently the chili dogs at Checkers on Victory Drive haven't restored the neighborhood quite enough.

+ An 18-year-old man who recently ran for mayor of Montgomery pleaded guilty in court to harassment charges. Jamel Brown says he still plans to run for City Council in 2011 - so I guess his role model is Washington's Marion Berry.

+ Columbus High School won the Georgia AAA softball title, winning the final game over Northside 5-0. Columbus pitcher Chandler Padgett threw three shutouts in the championship tournament - so guys who date her shouldn't even think about more than a goodnight kiss.

+ Louisiana State stomped Auburn in college football 31-10. The Auburn broadcasters declared L.S.U. coach Les Miles "classless" for bringing his first-string defense back in the game for a failed last-second goal-line stand. Then again, Miles could look at the statistics and declare Auburn offense-less.

+ Alabama escaped with a 12-10 triumph over Tennessee. The Volunteers could have won, but two field goals in the fourth quarter were blocked. It appears the Tennessee kicker could use a good can of "orange concentrate."

+ Instant Message to Columbus Water Works: I noticed you had a five-kilometer run Saturday at the South Columbus facility. Why not on River Road - maybe with a reenactment of that water tank rupture?

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 434 (- 22, 4.8%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

23 OCT 09: Double-Talkers

(BLOGGER'S NOTE: We were delayed in posting today because of an outage at , out of our control. If you were frustrated by this, our apologies.)

For Columbus sports fans, the first big move of the baseball off-season came Thursday -- even before the World Series contestants were finalized. They should be able to hear major league games on radio throughout next season. That is, without going to a high hill at the edge of town and attempting to tune in stations in Chicago or Cincinnati.

WRCG radio tried to end years of listener frustration Thursday, by launching an AM-FM simulcast. Your blog apparently learned the details first, through this e-mail from a station manager:


When we last spoke, I mentioned PMB would have more news for you to pass along. We're pleased to announce that you can now hear WRCG on the FM dial at 106.9. The FM channel will be a straight simulcast of what you hear on the AM channel. The AM signal will remain intact as well.

After years of struggling with signal issues on WRCG, we are glad to be able to provide this service to the community.

As a side note and of course I can't speak for Davis Broadcasting, but from what I hear on the air, they are simulcasting their AM 1580 programming on WIOL / 95.7 - like I said though, I don't know the details on that....

Thanks Richard for the service you provide;


Joseph C. Brannan

PMB Broadcasting, LLC

In case you came in late: WRCG-AM once was the undisputed champion of talk radio in Columbus. It had Rush Limbaugh, Atlanta baseball, University of Georgia football and Doug Kellett hosting "Talkline." In fact, the simulcast is another case where Kellett's advice finally was heeded years after it was given.

But in recent years, WRCG began eroding. First WDAK-AM took Rush Limbaugh's talk show. I'd say Limbaugh "jumped" stations, but I'm not sure his body literally allows for that....

After Doug Kellett left WRCG for a radio station in Nashville, the station's tower was moved because of business development in north Phenix City. A one-mile move turned into an engineering nightmare, and the AM signal became almost impossible to hear at night. Yet for some reason, right-wing talk show hosts never declared this a government conspiracy.

(Federal rules currently limit WRCG's AM signal to a nighttime power of 79 watts. That's barely enough to dry your laundry, much less broadcast Atlanta baseball games across a city.)

Archway Broadcasting was unable to solve WRCG's signal problems, and the station's listening audience declined as a result. The ratings dropped faster than a motel room price being haggled by Clark Howard....

So PMB Broadcasting hopes to solve the problems with hearing WRCG, by putting the signal on FM as well as AM. And the managers found a way to do it without changing the sound of its established FM stations, such as WCGQ and WKCN. If Bear O'Brian had a talking contest with Neal Boortz, I'm not sure it would ever end.

The simulcast of WRCG's programming is on a frequency reserved for low-power "translators" rebroadcasting other signals. The translator at 106.9 FM is licensed NOT to Columbus -- but to Crystal Valley, Georgia. Yes, the part of town with the somewhat notorious mobile home park. The mention of a radio station's signal there might launch an economic renaissance.

We checked online Thursday night, and found WRCG's FM tower apparently is in the heart of Columbus near Warm Springs Road. But here's the strange thing - it only has ten watts of power. That's even less than the AM signal at night. Have homeowners near the tower been urged to limit their cell phone use after sunset?

Truth be told, a ten-watt FM signal from the heart of Columbus ought to be strong enough to cover the "tri-city" area. But people who want to hear WRCG at night in Harris or Talbot Counties still could be frustrated next baseball season. For them, the "strike zone" still won't be wide enough.

Joseph Brannan's comments on a Davis Broadcasting simulcast is accurate, and we mentioned that first here last week [15 Oct]. So this makes two radio conglomerates in Columbus to move to AM-FM simulcasting in two weeks. Yet curiously, neither station's web site mentions the adjustment yet - so at least around here, radio is still faster than the Internet.

A couple of questions are unsettled, after WRCG's launch of an FM simulcast. Will Clear Channel Radio do the same sort of thing with WDAK? Or will the managers decide the voices of Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity are loud enough already?

Another issue comes to mind from these recent adjustments. Columbus has six AM radio stations - and now one-third of them are copied on FM. Is this a good thing for local diversity in broadcasting? Does it mean local radio has run out of ideas - or are the groups quietly negotiating to add a couple of the Sirius XM channels?

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!"<--

THE BIG BLOG QUESTION on the 2010 Columbus Mayor's race ended Thursday afternoon - and the final outcome may surprise you. Minister Zeph Baker ran away with the poll, taking 65 percent of the votes thanks to a big spurt in the last two days. That'll teach me to keep a political poll open through a Wednesday Bible study night.

One Zeph Baker backer wrote he has a "realizable vision.... His vision will create jobs with construction done by Columbus contractors and Columbus residents, only thus reducing our unemployment rate to 0...." This sounds like the input from Columbus Council will be zero as well.

Councilor Skip Henderson was second in our incredibly non-scientific poll, at 19 percent. Wayne Anthony and Teresa Tomlinson tied for third at six percent. And one person suggested Muscogee County School Board member Cathy Williams, because she's "not afraid to question any situation that comes up." Question, no - but vote against the Muscogee County Public Education Center, she didn't.

While the contenders go out and search for donors, we'll hunt through the Thursday news headlines:

+ Fort Benning officially closed the Infantry School, as it was folded into the combined "Maneuver Center of Excellence." WLTZ reported the center's official slogan is "One force, one fight." Some skeptics doubt that phrase really describes Columbus public safety these days.

+ NCR announced it will reduce its worldwide workforce by as much as ten percent. That could mean 2,200 job cuts, as the company prepares to open its new Columbus ATM plant. Someone should have realized if the tellers are automated, the "workers" building them could be as well.

+ The web site "Total Beauty" ranked the U.S. cities with the ugliest men - and concluded Mobile is tied for fifth place. This is due in part to Mobile ranking third for the "worst teeth." And you thought all the unashamed rednecks lived well outside the city limits....

+ Columbus knocked off Northside 2-0 in the Georgia state high school softball tournament at South Commons. With Muscogee County Schools closed today, I suspect plenty of teenage guys will attend this event - but unlike the players, the guys will be satisfied simply to reach first base with them.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 456 (+ 11, 2.5%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

22 OCT 09: The Final Countdown?

A couple of years ago, a Columbus business owner went on a personal mission. He did NOT want to promote his business -- but a book which claims to state the end of time. And you'll be disappointed to know the author has ruled you're out of time outs, and "running clock" rules are in effect.

The owner of Johnson's Camera Repair offered local newspapers some money to print ads promoting the religious book "Time Has an End." The author claims as of Wednesday, the world has two years left -- then God will destroy the entire physical universe. In other words, God's not going to let the Mayans declare victory in 2012.

(The ads promoting "Time Has an End" appeared in the Columbus Times and The Courier. They apparently did NOT appear in the Ledger-Enquirer - but then again, that sort of stuff is why the daily paper has a "letters to the editor" section.)

To mark this sobering pre-anniversary, I stopped by Johnson's Camera Repair in the Mission Square shopping center Wednesday. Owner Elijah Johnson has NOT changed his opinion about when time will end. Not when he has streaming audio of the author playing on a laptop computer - and from California, not the Columbus radio station which is much easier to pick up.

Tune to WFRC (90.5 FM) several times a day, and you'll hear the man who claims our universe now has only 729 days to go. Harold Camping is a founder and President of Family Radio, a Christian network based in Oakland. Critics who hear his radio Bible studies claim followers are being led on a strange "Camping trip."

Harold Camping uses all kinds of Bible-numerical mixtures to conclude 21 October 11 is "the end of the world." Judgment day for the world will come even earlier, in May 2011. Hopefully the old Russell County Courthouse roof finally will be fixed by then.

Harold Camping contends God stopped working in organized churches years ago - so Elijah Johnson does NOT go to church. Johnson told me Wednesday about 600 people in the Columbus area agree with Camping's views, but Family Radio discourages them from gathering together for worship. For that long-promised "meeting in the air," everyone will need to wear name tags.

I attended church services for three years with Elijah Johnson, after I moved to Columbus. In fact, his background is as a minister in the Church of Christ. So it's stunning for me to see how far he's moved - out of a pew, and into the privacy of his office on Sunday mornings. The only "end-time persecution" he may be facing there is the smell from Marco's Pizza next door.

So what's the problem with all this? Several, actually. Harold Camping originally thought Jesus might return in 1994. I've found members of his own Family Radio staff still attend church groups. And other Christian ministries claim Camping's teachings are far off-base -- although then again, some churches could have a lot of offering money at stake here.

After chatting with Elijah Johnson Wednesday, he gave me a seven-page printout with "ANOTHER INFALLIBLE PROOF" that the rapture of believers is coming in May 2011. When a document claims to be infallible in capital letters on page one.... well, even some supporters of President Obama are starting to admit he hasn't been perfect.

I still consider Elijah Johnson a friend. But as you might guess, I disagree with his and Harold Camping's view that the universe will end in two years. For instance, college football fans in the South are going to be upset if God ends "the game" before the regular season is over....

OVERHEARD OVER HERE:< It's poker night in Columbus, and a man is talking trash at the table. He's claiming to be a "poker genius."

"You're not a Super-Genius?" we ask. "Like Wile E. Coyote in the cartoon?"

The man stops short of going completely over the cliff. "I'm not a Super-Genius yet."

To which a man across the table responds: "Wait till he gets another beer."

The drive to poker night tops our review of Wednesday news items....

+ An evening drive found a METRA bus being attached to a tow truck at Talbotton Road and Veterans Parkway. I think I saw one or two people on the sidewalk next to the bus - so the usual crowd apparently was aboard.

+ The price of gasoline jumped across Columbus to the $2.50 range. The lowest I found was $2.48 a gallon at two BP stations along Manchester Expressway. Did that many people hurry to hardware stores and buy heating oil last Sunday and Monday?

+ Richard Hyatt's web site reported TV/radio car selling star Chris French has left Acura of Columbus. This proves once and for all Hardee's was lying with its recent commercials - you know, the ones saying "It's better when it's French."

+ Regions Bank announced its branch on Macon Road will close next January. It's practically across the street from the new Muscogee County Public Education Center -- and customers clearly are confused about which one has all the money.

+ Former Columbus Police officer Shatoya Wright was sentenced to six months in jail, for her role in a plot to rob a bank. Give Wright credit for one thing. Unlike those bank robbers earlier this week, she didn't wreck a police car attempting to make a getaway.

+ Federal Judge Clay Land sentenced Shawana Pierce to seven years in prison, for setting fire to the historic Fort Benning JAG building. Pierce could have made things worse - but she did NOT claim she torched the building because President Obama really was born in Kenya.

+ The U.S. Army International Sniper Competition ended at Fort Benning. WLTZ visited the morning challenge, and found only one shooting team could hit a target 680 meters away. Does Matt Ryan have to come down here from Atlanta, to show how this is done?

+ Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford announced he's backing Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks for Alabama Governor. Considering Langford is on trial right now for corruption, I imagine the other candidates are breathing a big sigh of relief.

+ The Southeastern Conference suspended the officiating crew which worked the Louisiana State-Georgia game. Bulldog fans are reminded to confine their celebration to the stands - because running onto the field could draw yet another 15-yard penalty.

+ Instant Message to whomever left a packet of "instant coffee beverage" on a counter at a Columbus post office: That's certainly unusual. I never would think to use those things for padding an envelope, and protecting valuables.

COMING SOON: Who would give me an award, for something which hasn't existed for years?....

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 445 (+ 11, 2.5%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

21 OCT 09: Cold Cutbacks

It's amazing how groups of people can have diametrically different tastes in food. Some people would love to have a catered lunch brought in today -- yet some mothers were on the TV news Tuesday, protesting the very thought of it at a grade school.

Several parents at Muscogee Elementary School complained to THE 5:00 p.m. news that their children are served lunches driven in from another grade school. They say as a result, the food is cold - and ESPN doesn't even serve "Cold Pizza" on its networks anymore.

Muscogee Elementary School's breakfasts and lunches are made at Cusseta Road Elementary, then transported about three miles. It might be food, and it might be driven in vans and SUV's, but these upset parents still consider it forced busing.

Muscogee County School spokesperson Valerie Fuller explained food is transported from Cusseta Road Elementary in special storage containers. But that name for the containers - "Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point"?! Next thing you know, someone will start rumors they're serving genetically engineered glowing yellow rice.

(Maybe the school district should use the containers they're promoting in Country's Barbecue commercials. You know, the ones which somehow know how to keep warm foods warm and cold foods cold.)

Foods supposedly are placed in warmers, after they arrive from Cusseta Road Elementary. But parents at Muscogee Elementary claim the items still are cold, the staff won't even heat them in a microwave -- and I'm not sure grade-school science labs use Bunsen burners anymore.

One parent went through a list of items Muscogee Elementary children are being served. But it left me confused, because her list began with cottage cheese. You might serve that warm as an ingredient in lasagna -- but isn't that an item from the chilly dairy case? Maybe this mom also needs to investigate her neighborhood grocery store.

But anyway: the mother complained Muscogee Elementary students also are served "broccoli, carrots, fruits in the cut.... something they don't want to eat...." So? Pretend it's an appetizer tray at the P.T.A. meeting....

But based on this list, I get the feeling the gripes go beyond food temperature. The mother seems upset that students are getting foods they don't want to eat. Blame this on McDonald's, I guess - for declaring long ago that meals with cheeseburgers are the only "happy" ones.

As it happens, Tuesday's national news included a report on school lunches. The Institute of Medicine actually suggests students eat more fruit and vegetables, because too many youngsters are overweight. If this report is adopted, the only acceptable "baby fat" will be the clothing line with a different spelling.

But if the Muscogee Elementary School parents really want a return to "in-house" cafeteria food, they might be disappointed. Several local schools have breakfasts and lunches delivered from other places now. That probably saves the district money on personnel -- and it's worked so well that WLTZ and the Ledger-Enquirer copied it.

For the record: the official Muscogee County School menu calendar shows grade-school students will get "chili cheese fries" today - along with fresh fruit, and that dreaded broccoli. I stunned my grandnieces a few weeks ago, when I told them a U.S. President once openly refused to eat broccoli. Yes, they still were expected to clean their plates without my help.

So dab that broccoli in the cheese sauce for some flavor, while we chew on other Tuesday news:

+ The Phenix City Council heard about an unusual lawsuit against the city. One person who attended the meeting says a citizen used a walker to carry trash to the curb for pickup - but then the collection crew reportedly took the walker, as well as the garbage. So a city actually is being sued for having overenthusiastic employees....

(WRBL reports the Phenix City Council also decided to study the addition of "traffic cameras" around town. Columbus already has several of them installed at intersections - yet for some reason, WTVM has yet to show any of them during weather reports.)

+ Early voting opened for the Georgia House seat vacated by Georgia Transportation Director Vance Smith. With two weeks of campaigning left, I have no clue about how this race is going -- and candidate Jerry Luquire actually seems to be watching his tongue.

+ Army Chief of Staff George Casey visited Fort Benning and the National Infantry Museum. Casey assured reporters base realignment will remain on schedule, as long as Congress keeps passing "continuing resolutions" for military spending. Isn't this strange? Construction on post could depend on whether the runoff election in Afghanistan has no cheating.

+ WLTZ reported the Columbus Health Department has given H-1-N-1 spray flu vaccine to only 62 people so far. Recent news reports could drive that number higher - as residents mistakenly suspect they can get "swine flu" from eating barbecued pork.

+ Evening newscasts reported Albany ranks fourth on a new list of the most impoverished cities in the U.S. Considering Forbes came out with this list last week, apparently the Albany news media are too poor even to buy magazines.

+ Auburn University football coach Gene Chizik told reporters his team will "have to play more than three quarters" to beat Louisiana State this weekend. There's a way to get around this matter, of course -- but so far, no one in Auburn has proposed starting a college hockey team.

+ Instant Message to the managers of the new Sexual Assault Support Center in Columbus: I'm sure you mean well. But about that name -- the initials are going to have some people giggling about the "joy of SASC."

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 434 (+ 15, 3.6%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

20 OCT 09: Survivor, Kitchen

There's nothing like an autumn cold wave to get all sorts of unwanted visitors away from my home. And no, I'm NOT talking about beggars at the door asking for bus fare to some cooler northern city.

When the autumn chill comes, the cockroaches in my kitchen tend to vanish. I'm not sure where all of them go, but some of them seem to seek warmth around the pilot lights of the oven. When I bake brownies, they prove an old cliche -- they can't stand the heat, so they get out through the burners.

Truth be told, the number of cockroaches running around the kitchen seemed to be down this past summer. I'm not sure that was completely due to the wet weather. It may have been due to one or two small salamanders, which somehow snuck inside - and apparently don't consider licking dinner plates to be much of a meal.

Shortly before my latest vacation, I was faster than one moderately-sized cockroach. I found it crawling inside one of those plastic cookie boxes from a supermarket bakery. By closing and locking down the lid, it was trapped - and it was mine, all mine. And some of you get silly cheap thrills spending money on fantasy football leagues....

Many people do not realize how many interesting experiments you can conduct with cockroaches. By dropping one in a half-full cup of water, you can watch a battle for survival. Roaches can't really swim, so they have to scramble to the edge of the cup to climb out - except their long feelers can keep their legs from climbing out of the water.

(The going gets even rougher if the roach is tossed in "polluted" water - for instance, if you fill a used casserole dish with water to let it soak. Tell your children about this stunt, and they could be the hit of the school science fair this winter. Or then again, animal rights groups might stage a protest.)

The trapped cockroach in the cookie box was an experiment I'd tried before, but not in detail. With no apparent way of escape, what would the insect do? Could it survive - and if so, how long? Would I suddenly find three more roaches in the box, telling me the original was female? Would the number then go down, to tell me they're really cannibals?

In the first couple of days, the cockroach walked around the box like nothing unusual was happening. Then at about Day 6, I walked into the kitchen and found its feelers sticking through a tiny gap where the box lid is sealed. The roach certainly didn't have strength in its feelers to pry open the box -- so maybe it found some fresh air, after running around the box in frustration.

From there, things seemed to go downhill for the experiment. I'd find the roach resting motionless in the box - but after shaking the box a bit, the insect moved around with signs of life. That probably made me seem like a physical therapist walking through an intensive care unit.

At Day 11 of the experiment, it was time to leave for Florida. I thought about opening the box outside my door, and letting the cockroach out into nature. After all, my apartment lease has a "no pets" clause....

But I decided to leave the roach in the box - and on Day 21, I came home from Florida to this result. Sometime during the ten-day getaway, our subject ran out of energy and life. It died all alone - which actually is different from roaches I crush on the kitchen floor. Those tragic victims insects tend to attract other roaches, almost as if they're holding a memorial service.

I've learned over the years that cockroaches can be very resourceful creatures. But this one couldn't figure out a way of escape - and when I was watching, it didn't even have "visits" from other passing roaches watching its plight. There's probably a broad lesson about the human condition here. If this experiment shows up in Valley Rescue Mission commercials, you'll know the staff agrees.

If this experiment is our main topic of the day, you can probably guess not much news thrilled us Monday. But here's what we noticed....

+ The Muscogee County School Board held its first formal meeting in its new building. WRBL reports the board voted to name the building the Muscogee County Public Education Center. We can shorten that to the McPEC - which sounds it should be the name of a chicken dancing with Ronald McDonald.

(One man at the meeting claims Bert Coker and Paul Olson showed up, and openly challenged the integrity of Superintendent Susan Andrews. Don't we all appreciate gracious losers?)

+ Troup County teacher Elizabeth Gaddy pleaded guilty to child molestation of a student, and was sentenced to 20 years. This is sobering and sad, of course - but isn't there a lesson here for Muscogee County Schools? Students might need cell phones during the school day after all - at least until security cameras are pointed toward classrooms as well as hallways.

+ WLTZ's web site reported the River Road Pharmacy fire has been blamed on an electrical problem. So much for the "try meth ingredients before you buy them" theory....

+ WLTZ also showed some of the items pulled from the Chattahoochee River during "Help the Hooch" weekend. The usual collection of old tires was removed -- but why would someone throw a couch in the river? I don't think the cleaners for dog messes really are THAT expensive.

+ Georgia head coach Mark Richt spoke before the Columbus Quarterback Club. The Bulldogs have an off week before the annual showdown with Florida - when Richt takes on the college football equivalent of an "Urban legend."

+ The Atlanta Falcons announced cornerback Brian Williams is out for the season, due to a torn A.C.L. But at least he'll have more time to focus on his other job, anchoring the NBC Nightly News.

+ Instant Message to the Ledger-Enquirer: When you put Alabama's top ranking in the football poll on page one of the Monday morning paper, I know it was a slow Sunday for news in Columbus.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 419 (+ 8, 1.9%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

19 OCT 09: Pretty Daring

After weeks of potential provocation, the billboards have come down. And after weeks of waiting for an explanation, I've given up. A series of signs could have sparked a cross-river rivalry - but they apparently didn't even lead to a combined meeting of local Rotary Clubs.

Did you notice billboards such as this one across Columbus in the last few weeks? I spotted this one on Talbotton Road - declaring "Phenix City is prettier than Columbus." Most Columbus residents probably would dispute this right away. After all, when was the last time a Phenix City woman won the Miss Alabama pageant?

The billboards displayed several paintings and a web site address, but gave no further explanation. So I went to the web site of Mike Howard, and found a painting with a Dillingham Street view of the Government Center from the Phenix City side. It's a 1993 painting -- yet amazingly shows the tornado-damaged Phenix City buildings cleared away.

Mike Howard's web site explains why he's a bit biased when it comes to Phenix City. He grew up there, and was ten years old when "martial law" was imposed there in 1954. Yes, you Tea Party members - part of our country had martial law long before President Obama took office.

I'm told Mike Howard is related to former Phenix City Mayor Sammy Howard. Yet he has a college degree from the University of Georgia.-- which should tell you how free-spirited and flighty so many artists are.

Mike Howard received a degree in art education from the old Columbus College, then went to New York to pursue a career in painting. The reason for this should be obvious - so many homes in our area are built with brick.

Mike Howard has gone on to be a featured artist at galleries from coast to coast. Yet in a bow toward home, Howard's online biography indicates he painted two murals on the sides of Hurtsboro buildings. One is the "Museum of Ordinary People" - which I think refers to every resident Robert Schweiger has yet to criticize.

But none of this answers my big question - why put up billboards NOW, declaring Phenix City is prettier than Columbus? We left a message for Mike Howard about this several weeks ago, but never received a response. It's not like I'm asking him about sculptures going in front of libraries....

I can only guess about the reason for Mike Howard's recent billboards. His home page shows he recently had an exhibition at the Alabama Artist Gallery in Montgomery. So did he balance things out, with signs declaring Columbus is prettier than the Alabama capital?

I'd also like to ask Mike Howard specifically what makes Phenix City prettier than Columbus. For instance, did he conclude Phenix City did a better job with Streetscape - such as those colorful yellow bumps on the Broad Street sidewalk?

One area where I consider Phenix City prettier than Columbus is in the Riverwalk landscaping. Phenix City lined its walkway with plenty of trees for providing summer shade. But then again, Fort Benning still bars soldiers from fishing along the Phenix City riverbank - which means that walkway also is pretty dangerous.

-> Our other blog starts with poker, then goes in directions you might not expect. People around the world visit "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: A blog reader calls our attention to a news story involving Warm Springs, which apparently has received much more attention in Atlanta than in Columbus....

As you know the Gwinnett Co., GA ousted Judge, James Oxendine, father of the present GA Insurance Commissioner allegedly gave nearly $400,000 to Wayne Reece, Lobbyist, The Tropics Foundation Chair and Vice [no pun intended] Chair of the Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Development Fund. "Judge" Oxendine reportedly gave him the money without the knowledge of the Board of Directors.

HMMM-the father of the GA Insurance Commissioner gives money, under the table, to an insurance Co. lobbyist? What could possibly be wrong with that???Beats me~~~~

You will note Mr. Reece has listed on his lobby report: Porsche, and Intercontinental Hotels, both on the Board of The Tropics Foundation.

AIG, and Lifeline, are also listed on his lobby report and they are insurance related.


Oh, yea, that was Fundatropicos!!!! ~~~~ Right~~~~~

HMMMMM~ And, you thought they were Socialists! Silly You!

To be clear: James Oxendine chaired the board of this fund-raising agency for the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute. Wayne Reece was Vice Chair, and according to our linked article lobbies at the Georgia General Assembly on behalf of insurance companies. Someone should tell Reece Rep. Carolyn Hugley is an insurance agent, and can save him the trouble.

(Yes, we were e-mailed details on Wayne Reece's financial records - such as lobbying work and campaign contributions. Thankfully, he was NOT the one who lobbied us to mention this past weekend's Benning Bazaar.)

Jim Oxendine told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution everyone on the Roosevelt Warm Springs Rehabilitation Development Fund knew about the $400,000 payment. So was it really done "under the table" - or across a banquet table at some Meriwether County restaurant?

As for doing business with Venezuela - local drivers may be doing that without realizing it. Citgo gasoline is owned by Venezuela's national oil company. And who knows where the Venezuelan beauty pageant contestants get the money for their plastic surgery.

A desire to rest in some "warm springs" leads to our review of Sunday news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus was well below normal, at 59 degrees F. But at least the day was sunny - making it the first day in months when entering a warm car made me say "ahhhh," instead of "ouch."

+ Online postings indicated TV reporter Chauncy Glover won a "Libby Award," for acting at the Liberty Theater. Apparently he did NOT offer to share the award with departed WLTZ anchor Libby Allison....

(Before you get wrong ideas - no, the Libby Award winners do NOT receive gold-plated cans of green beans.)

+ The first Bowl Championship Series rankings showed Florida first and Alabama second. Yet the Associated Press college football poll moved Alabama up to first, ahead of Florida. We need some sort of tiebreaker to settle this - so which college has the better students in fantasy leagues?

+ The Atlanta Falcons shut down Chicago 21-14. The Falcon cheerleaders wore pink outfits, to call attention to women's cancer. I'll know owner Arthur Blank is really serious about this when the players wear pink, instead of red.

(The NBC Sports broadcasting team said Falcons right guard Harvey Dahl is considered by some the "nastiest player" in the National Football League. You get the feeling the post-game shower is the only one Dahl takes all week.)

+ Instant Message to the managers of The Sports Page on Veterans Parkway: Did I hear the story correctly? Did you call off your three-night-a-week poker tournaments because you're licensed as a "restaurant," not a bar? Drain the fat from your sandwiches better, and players will buy them without worrying about marking the cards.

To offer a story tip, advertise to our readers, make a PayPal donation 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: 411 (- 6, 1.4%)

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.

© 2003-09 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

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