Sunday, February 28, 2010

28 FEB 10: Bus Stops

It's a big weekend for buses in the Columbus area. Several of them are in South Commons, and crossing the downtown area. But a single bus attracted a big crowd Saturday in Pine Mountain Valley -- because people wanted that bus to move away. If you didn't know better, you'd think SOA Watch was protesting nine months early.

Saturday marked the big reveal of the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" house for Greenville High School football coach Jeremy Williams. He'll soon need a wheelchair due to Lou Gehrig's Disease. His son already is in a wheelchair, due to a birth defect. So the construction team really wanted more than a bus to move and roll....

The week-long project to build a new house for Jeremy Williams became a big all-star event. Members of the Columbus Cottonmouths showed up one day - but I'm not sure they did any work. After all, "boarding" for hockey players normally is a penalty.

The football community rallied around Jeremy Williams and his family. WTVM spotted Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman at the construction project during the week. A little hammer-swinging might improve his throwing motion as much as Tim Tebow's coaches.

(Former Georgia wide receiver Hines Ward also stopped by the construction site. But the long-time Pittsburgh Steeler seemed to show up a little late to add steel beams to the structure.)

Some people who attended Saturday's reveal spotted Sandra Bullock in the crowd. Perhaps she was there because Jeremy Williams attended the University of Memphis, where her movie "The Blind Side" was inspired. I can't believe Bullock was there lobbying the crowd for Oscar votes.

Yet the big construction project utilized plenty of rank-and-file volunteers as well. A call went out during the week for wallpaper hangers -- apparently to prove the Pine Mountain community sticks together, no matter what.

"Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" even organized a blood drive near the construction site. But here's what I don't understand - why doesn't this show ever go back to experts from the original "Extreme Makeover?" Would it insult the Williams family to insist someone also needs plastic surgery?

Saturday night's news didn't show very much of the Williams's new home, and didn't go inside at all. If I recall correctly from other projects, much of that is kept secret until the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" episode airs this spring. So you might not know in time if the St. Jude Dream Home is better.

Even though the new home is built, efforts to help the Williams family may not be over yet. Fund-raising was in progress Friday to buy the family a wheelchair-accessible van and pay off the home mortgage. You mean there's a mortgage to pay off on the old house? That house isn't "upside down" - it's more like belly-up.

As for the buses in Columbus: they're moving college softball teams around during the annual Leadoff Classic. For a change, it appears the tournament will end today with NO rain -- and not even a repeat of last year's snowstorm. Let's all hope a foul ball doesn't hit the wrong sprinkler head.

The Leadoff Classic brings together 23 college softball teams from across the country. Alabama, Auburn and Georgia Tech are there. But Georgia is hosting its own "Softball Classic" - the second of three weekend tournaments in a row being played in Athens. The visiting schools obviously do not realize Columbus is several degrees warmer at this time of year.

-> 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: Not even a humor blogger can please everybody. Friday's entry brought an example of that....

Your comment wondering if the Columbus Black History Museum has displays of housing projects was disgusting.

I'm sorry if that offended anyone -- but the museum on Eighth Street happens to include post cards displaying lynchings from years gone by. This past week's burglar apparently did NOT take any of them. And strange as it may sound, a series of photos from the Booker T. Washington Apartments might show how times have improved.

To be fair: I doubt the Columbus Museum on Wynnton Road has a display about local housing projects, either. One current exhibit includes records of African-American residents during the Civil War - including Columbus voter rolls. Do you think people complained in the 1860's about needing 48 voting precincts?

And our new New Delhi correspondent can't stop talking TSYS:

Hi Richard,

Infonox is a TSYS subsidiary in India. So is Card Tech. Both are on a hiring spree as a little bit of reasearch will show so easily.

rgds/Veeresh Malik

Mr. Malik's latest e-mail included links to three Infonox job postings for positions in India -- but all of them were posted last November. Do you think the person who's supposed to keep track of such things was shown the door last week, for not doing the job well?

But we're not The Blog of India - even though India is one of my favorite salsa singers. So let's go on to other headlines from a busy weekend:

+ The Ledger-Enquirer announced Executive Editor Ben Holden will leave in April, for a position at the University of Nevada. Somewhere at the Government Center, supporters of District Attorney Julia Slater celebrated their second big win in four months.

+ WTVM visited Booth's Corner Café in downtown Phenix City, and revealed it almost closed last year. For some reason, this was blamed on the bad economy -- and NOT on the good-looking Russell County Government Center, where so many regular customers moved.

+ Kia marked the grand opening of its West Point plant, even though production has been underway for three months. I don't quite understand this. You roll out 2010 model cars in 2009 - and then you celebrate a 2009 milestone two months into 2010?!

+ Valley Interfaith Promise held its second annual bed race on 14th Street. The event raised thousands of dollars to help homeless people - and if there's any justice, the beds should find a good home at local shelters.

+ Columbus State University submitted millions of dollars in budget cuts, to meet a rushed state deadline. It's a wonder men's basketball coach Doug Branson was allowed to wait until after Saturday's final game to announce his resignation.

(Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel says the state should cut 7,800 jobs to balance its budget. She should have told Governor Sonny Perdue about this when she resigned as Secretary of State - because Perdue wouldn't have bothered replacing her.)

+ Roundball Saturday Night (tm) ended with Auburn's men lashing Louisiana State 74-59. Auburn is now 14-15 on the year - with Coach Jeff Lebo motivating his team by noting it's only a half-game worse than North Carolina.

+ The Columbus Cottonmouths came from two goals down in the third period to knock off Knoxville 3-2. Poor Mike Vee - the Cottonmouths announcer started the third period on WRCG by welcoming fans back to the Civic Center, when the team was playing a road game. Maybe the Southern League needed an Olympic break, too....

+ Phenix City Central pressed Prattville in high school baseball 10-2. I know this because several Central players and coaches strolled into the downtown KFC after the game, while I waited for dinner. They probably had half-innings shorter than their wait for chicken at the buffet.

+ A statue of boxing champion Joe Louis was unveiled outside the Chambers County Courthouse, in his home town of LaFayette. I'm convinced boxers in Louis's era were in much better condition than today's fighters. Why, the other day I watched ESPN Classic - and Sugar Ray Robinson won two world championships in one hour.

(The statue of Joe Louis is eight feet tall, made of bronze and set on a base of granite. Some Chambers County residents probably want to put a man eight feet underground in bronze with a granite marker right now. But that's enough about the Noah White trial....)

+ Instant Message to former Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff: OK, you're endorsing Josh McKoon for State Senate. But I'd be a little more impressed about that endorsement if McKoon actually had some opposition right now.

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