Tuesday, April 20, 2010

20 APR 10: Tight Squeezes

Drive on highways in other cities, and you'll discover Columbus is rather roomy when it comes to entrances and exit ramps. But someday I'll figure out why drivers line up in the right turn lane, to make a left turn from Macon Road to Interstate 185. Get in the left lane from the start, and you'll at least feel superior.

Tightness was on display in two different Columbus locations Monday night. We'll start with traffic, and a public hearing on the future of Whittlesey Road. The meeting was held at Northside Chapel - which ought to hold services during morning and afternoon rush hours, so people can stop and repent of anger while waiting in long lines.

While the Whittlesey Road area has grown a lot, the street itself remains a narrow two-lane road between Veterans Parkway and Whitesville Road. Clearly this section of this pavement has not been feasting on Bruster's Ice Cream or T.G.I.Friday's dinners....

After years of study and property negotiation, the city of Columbus finally appears ready to widen that section of Whittlesey Road. But planners say that will mean road closures and detours in the months ahead. In other words, this is the big break Peachtree Mall has been waiting to see.

From what I heard on the evening news, Bradley Park Drive will be a major detour route during the construction. That street actually intersects Whittlesey Road twice, but "The Brad" is a narrow winding road of its own east of Whitesville Road. Any openings on the office complexes may be gobbled up by liability lawyers.

A manager of the Bruster's stand on Whittlesey Road told WRBL construction will be going on within a few feet of his door. He's concerned the Whittlesey widening work will cost him business. But he should look for the marketing opportunity here - and note how authentic his "rocky road" ice cream really is.

(Oh yes - there's a tongue twister to use in impressing your friends. Tell them the "Whittlesey widening work is wonderful" several times.)

A potentially more troubling tight spot was examined Monday night by the Muscogee County School Board. Superintendent Susan Andrews offered ideas for cutting the district budget another four million dollars this fiscal year. If this budget has to be chopped any further, the professionals at Burt's Butcher Shoppe may have to do it.

Even more challenging is a call from the state to reduce the Muscogee County school budget 18 million dollars next fiscal year. Money apparently cannot be moved over from last year's sales tax vote for new construction -- which could mean once a new Carver High School is built, it won't be used nearly as much as the old one.

The list of possible budget cuts proposed Monday night includes an end to year-round school in Muscogee County. Only two schools have that schedule now -- and this is why GPB added that 24-hour digital children's channel, anyway.

Superintendent Susan Andrews also suggests combining Benning Hills and Muscogee Elementary Schools.. She suspects enough staff members would retire to avoid layoffs. So far, no one is daring to call the new school Muscogee Pension Magnet Academy.

The Superintendent also proposes shuffling school start times, to eliminate the need for five bus drivers. Middle school students would be in class until 4:20 p.m. - which could cost "General Hospital" a large number of potential new viewers.

Superintendent Susan Andrews admits she's asked Mayor Jim Wetherington to have the city pick up the salaries of school crossing guards, to save the school district more than $400,000. This actually could make the city money. Simply put a small microphone on the guards' lapels, and hide police cars around the corner from every crosswalk.

The list of proposed budget cuts say nothing about Muscogee County school arts programs. But there was a rally at the Georgia state capitol Monday by people who oppose the planned elimination of the Georgia Council of the Arts. How can you use Photoshop on your computer, when no one knows how to take photos anymore?

Some people are very concerned about yet another round of Muscogee County school budget cuts. Dick McMichael wrote on his blog Monday it "places our country at risk." Yet his own headline on the item misspelled it "Muscogee County School DICTRICT" - and when he was in school, I think that would have simply cost him a perfect score.

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

BLOG CORRECTION: Now this is a first - a reader correcting us about a wild hog....

I THINK SHE NAMED THE PIG"PANSIE"....I could be wrong!

After reviewing the video, we indeed pinned the wrong name on that hog Sunday. Our apologies to caretaker Cheryl Doyle. Things might have been different 50 years ago -- as animal lovers would have been inspired by Miss Patsy's Playhouse.

Now to other important concerns (at least for some people) which made news Monday:

+ The Columbus Election Board web site posted a "declaration of intent" by Paul Olson. That means he plans to accept contributions in a campaign for mayor -- and he'll be so busy with his own financial records that he won't be able to challenge violations by everyone else.

+ Funeral home operator Bruce Huff officially launched his campaign for Council District 3, challenging Julius Hunter [19 Jan]. If Huff gets elected, Muscogee County Coroner Bill Thrower might want to clear out his Tuesdays -- you know, the Council meeting days.

+ WTVM reported Columbus Councilor Red McDaniel wants the proposed increase in city garbage fees tabled until after the November election. As it happens, McDaniel is up for reelection in November. If he makes voters pay more to take out the trash, they might send him to the curb in the process.

+ Columbus and Phenix City marked one year since a devastating tornado. WTVM reported the tornado-damaged Valley Lanes in Phenix City will NOT be rebuilt. So the local library's Wii game days may have to be adjusted, to allow beer sales in the parking lot.

+ Atlanta pitcher Tim Hudson donated $200,000 to the Chattahoochee Valley Community College baseball program. In exchange, CVCC retired Hudson's old number 18 and put it on the Howard Lake Field wall. If five more CVCC players would follow Hudson's example, Phenix City residents would have a new lottery combination to try.

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