Monday, December 28, 2009

28 DEC 09: Weight for Change

WXTX "News at Ten" showed its year-end countdown of top local stories Sunday night. Michael Registe's return to Columbus was number one, while the Muscogee County Schools sales tax vote was number nine. And then critics say the news media pander to children too much....

The SPLOST vote in Muscogee County will have repercussions for several years - and a surprising one surfaced over the weekend. Richard Hyatt's web site noted the school board is considering spending $750,000 for a "temporary athletic facility" at Baker Middle School. So? Supporters DID say it would be a temporary tax.

We already knew Carver High School students would be moved to Baker Middle School, while their high school building is replaced. But apparently the athletic facilities at Baker aren't good enough. And the new hotels being built along Victory Drive must not have any swimming pools or exercise rooms.

The football field next to Baker Middle School apparently is NOT an issue. A Hispanic soccer league has used that field on weekends for several years. In fact, Carver's coaching staff might want to visit some of their games - because I understand the Tigers have had place-kicking problems recently.

The last Muscogee County School Board agenda listed some of the apparent shortcomings with Baker Middle School. For one thing, Carver High School needs a temporary building to hold a "boys' locker room." If the Baker boys and girls are sharing one now, that may start a new enrollment rush at Pacelli and Calvary Christian.

The temporary athletic building also would include a weight room. We can't expect Carver football players to get by simply with lifting science tables and cafeteria benches.

Several different ideas come to mind, as I consider this proposed athletic building. First of all: why should it be temporary? Build something permanent that Baker Middle School students can use, once the new Carver High School is ready. The weight room could double as a math lab, for teaching addition and subtraction.

Richard Hyatt reposted the list of school SPLOST projects, and asked where a Baker Middle School athletic building is. I think I found it -- under "athletic upgrades systemwide." But then again, some 11-year-olds might consider the new locker room a "playground."

But another thought comes to mind here. Why can't Carver High School use facilities a short walk from Baker Middle School? The Frank Chester Recreation Center is only three doors down, with at least a basketball court. And if that's too far to walk, there's a fire/EMS station in between them.

And again the question must be asked -- why can't Muscogee County Schools use part of the old Baker High School, which the district still owns? Has that building become so rundown that it would cost more than $750,000 to renovate?

The Carver High School men's basketball teams will be in action tonight, as the annual "William Henry Shaw Christmas Tournament" begins around Columbus. The men's schedule offers one surprise - as area schools are joined by Franklin County, which is between Athens and Toccoa. Maybe the players are sticking around to help build a Habitat for Humanity house.

Let's see what else we could find, from a Sunday with little news to offer:

+ The Christ Community Church broadcast on WBOJ-FM included a confession from the pastor. Keith Cowart admitted he became annoyed with two women talking during a screening of "The Passion of the Christ," and spoke to them about it - only to learn one was blind, and the other was reciting the subtitles. Some ministers have to learn not to say too much....

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths lost in overtime to Knoxville 3-2. A two-minute penalty against Columbus in the second period for "too many men on the ice" led to a game misconduct against Ryan McCarthy for "abuse of officials." Hopefully he did NOT compare their mathematics skills to some Muscogee County schools.

+ The Atlanta Falcons bounced Buffalo 31-3. Both Atlanta kickers were hurt during the game, so defensive lineman Kroy Biermann was called on for a couple of kickoffs. It's a wonder the football didn't explode from the force of the blow.

+ Instant Message to Davis Broadcasting: Again?! For the second night in a row, you switched away from a game before it was over. But at least this time, the pro football game was out of hand - and NBC probably wishes it could have done the same thing.

-> We tried to win $20,000 at the online poker table Sunday night. How did we do? Find out at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

2009 IN REVIEW CON'D: People in Columbus had to adjust to some changes in July. The city took over the recycling program. TV newscasters suddenly flipped to different radio stations. And morning lows in the range of 62 degrees F. actually were worth the trouble.

The Columbus sales tax for "streets and safety" took effect as July began. You may have noticed the impact of extra police officers and beats already - as young women no longer are getting drunk at bridal shops.

Yet a couple of Muscogee County Prison inmates got away from a work detail in July, and escaped all the way to Las Vegas. This suggests to me they don't show C.S.I. on the prison TV screens - because otherwise the inmates would have fled somewhere else.

Fort Benning unveiled a new safety-conscious device in July - a hand-held scanner for checking visitors. But sadly, it only checks their license plates. Given what happened over the weekend, we could use a scanner which checks visitors' underwear.

The Muscogee County School Board approved tough new rules on student cell phones in July. This had an immediate impact, as rumors about teacher furloughs spread much more slowly.

This blog broke news in early July of a sewage spill into Holland Creek in Phenix City. It turned out to be one of many in the Columbus area, which were blamed on record rain. It's a wonder a small-scale "water war" hasn't started, with a lawsuit from the city of Eufaula.

A Harris County Commissioner caused a stir in July, by proposing a ban on purchases of General Motors and Chrysler vehicles. He withdraw the proposal hours later - but amazingly, he still drove the Saturn and Saab names out of business.

Then came August, which was marked by a contentious town hall meeting on health care reform in Columbus. Ever the skilled tactician, retired General William Calley chose that very day to come out of hiding and talk to a civic club.

The economy remained a major concern in August. Colonial Bank went out of business. Reports spread of furloughs in the Georgia State Patrol. Even the University of Georgia football coaches had to take furlough days - which may be the real reason why the Bulldogs have to settle for tonight's Independence Bowl.

A new school year opened in Columbus in August, with a curious mix of developments. Parents were told to stop idling their cars outside school - yet a high school principal who was forced to become idle due to scandal was named Georgia's Principal of the Year.

Yet a "New Day Campaign" began in August, to push for a Muscogee County school sales tax. For the 43 percent of voters who opposed it, I think you have four days left to buy everything you can.

Small towns outside Columbus made unusual news in August. A couple in Richland was charged with running a ponzi scheme. The mayor of Hurtsboro was indicted, for not handing over some records. And Webster County had to survive without a high school football team - which somehow has NOT caused residents to move en masse to Cusseta.

We learned in August that Fort Benning had launched a program to promote religious sensitivity. Yet SOA Watch seemingly was not impressed by this - because protesters again left crosses in November, without any stars of David.

Then there was the Columbus attorney who performed a feat of strength for his birthday in August. Cecil Chaves ran 60 miles, rode a bicycle for 60 miles, then swam 60 laps around Lake Oliver. You wondered where the National Football League got that "Play 60" idea, didn't you?

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