Thursday, March 18, 2010

18 MAR 10: Water World

Wednesday was a rainy day in Columbus. Again. How many trees do we need to plant around the area to qualify for "rain forest" status?

If we're going to have all this water, we might as well turn it to our advantage. And the Columbus Chamber of Commerce is preparing to do exactly that. WRBL reported Wednesday night the chamber is preparing to announce the development of whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River. Some of us thought this already was water under the 13th Street Bridge.

Chamber of Commerce President Mike Gaymon said the money has been secured for whitewater rafting construction. But an official announcement about the project won't come until May or June. I'm not sure why Gaymon is waiting -- since I've never heard of someone water skiing from the back of a kayak.

Turning the Chattahoochee River downtown into a whitewater rafting zone will cost about $23 million. Mike Gaymon admits more money would be nice, to develop a two-mike kayak course. Hopefully the developers would build something that can double as a skateboard park during a drought.

The Army Corps of Engineers is promising money for the whitewater rafting area. Mike Gaymon says other funds are coming from "the private sector." Hmmmm - which companies lead the U.S. in paddle production?

Mike Gaymon says groundbreaking for the whitewater rafting project should occur early next year. Some people might ask how ground would be broken for something in the middle of the Chattahoochee -- but those people apparently haven't heard of the teenagers getting stuck on rocks when the river rises.

(There's also the matter of blowing up dams across the river, which once were helpful for mills. So many mills have closed in the Columbus area that they've become, well, a "dam shame.")

Mike Gaymon declared Columbus would be the largest city in the world with a whitewater rafting course. I think there's a good reason for that - most people enjoy kayaking with open-air nature around them, instead of buildings marked Synovus and Russell County Government.

But if all this whitewater talk sounds familiar, it should. People have talked for years about turning the Chattahoochee River into a rafting area - but nothing has been done to make it happen. In fact, mouths sometimes ran as fast as the river's water....

A smaller-scale construction project involving water already is underway in Columbus. WTVM showed work Wednesday on improving the Double Churches swimming pool. Soon it will stretch 25 yards from end to end, allowing people to swim laps -- for instance, as punishment for horseplay around the lifeguard.

Workers at the construction site say the pool renovation project is ahead of schedule, despite all the bad weather this winter. In fact, they might be hoping for more rain to fall - to fill the pool in a natural and organic way.

If that's not enough, the main office of Columbus Water Works will have a display today on preventing leaks. It's a main event of "Fix a Leak Week" -- and the water works is showing a lot of chutzpah to celebrate this week, after that big tank rupture last spring.

Columbus Water Works claims leaks cause the average U.S. home to waste 11,000 gallons of water per year. Wow - I get enough pain over spaghetti boxes specifying four quarts of water per pound now, instead of there.

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

E-MAIL UPDATE: We had fun with the phrase "frigid conditions" Tuesday, in describing a Columbus State softball game. The sportscaster who used that phrase would like to explain....

When you grow up in South Florida , 50 degrees and windy is frigid! Also I figured the dog wearing a sweatshirt was enough for me to proclaim cold conditions, haha. Thanks for watching!

Stuart Webber

Sports Director

WRBL-TV (News 3)

You'd think some company would sell special clothing, especially for the rare Florida cold snaps -- something like thermal-insulated walking shorts.

The Columbus State baseball team certainly isn't frigid right now. The Cougars stormed past Stillman 12-1 Wednesday, and now have won 21 consecutive games. They'd better declare blackjack right now, because a win this weekend would put them over the limit.

Let's circle the bases of other Wednesday news....

+ Columbus Police told WTVM someone broke a window at Lake Oliver Marina, and stole $100 worth of snacks and candy. The burglar must have left disappointed -- because all he had to do was sell a single "100 Grand" bar on eBay at face value to get rich quick.

+ The Ledger-Enquirer's web site revealed Aflac President Paul Amos II is buying the Green Island mansion of Bill Heard Jr. It's a home with nine bathrooms [7 Jan 09] - so that duck has no more excuses for leaving a mess on the carpet.

+ Phenix City and West Point staged St. Patrick's Day parades. I assume a new tradition began in West Point this year - with a procession of green Kia Sorrentos.

+ The Georgia Senate voted to allow government-sanctioned street racing. The races would have to be publicized at least 30 days in advance - so all the teenagers in the neighborhood have plenty of time to practice jackrabbit starts in their driveways.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) concluded for the season, as Troy lost to Mississippi 84-65 in the National Invitational Tournament. Troy recently broke ground for a new basketball arena on the main campus - so now you know why the downtown Phenix City campus site is being ignored.

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