Tuesday, June 29, 2010

29 JUN 10: Boxes and Boxcutters

The Monday morning run started earlier than usual - a little before 8:00 a.m. ET. Getting on the Riverwalk when the summer temperature is only 75 degrees F. may have helped me run a little farther. It's either that, or my new running shoes somehow are strengthening my lungs.

Monday's course was a round-trip from Golden Park to the area of Port Columbus. Not many people were out on the Riverwalk at that hour, reminding me of a complaint years ago by then-TV reporter John Lyles. He claimed the city spent more money on the Riverwalk than the traffic justified. What would he say now -- as more people walk near the Chattahoochee River than kayak in it?

The run was uneventful for me, until I watched the Monday night news on WLTZ. Then I learned someone was robbed Sunday morning, apparently on the very section of the Riverwalk I'd been running. I make it a point NOT to carry any money with me when I run - since for one thing, no Gatorade vending machines have been set up outside.

Columbus Police reported a 74-year-old woman surrendered a white gold necklace, when someone stopped her on the Riverwalk with a boxcutter. If the U.S. Supreme Court isn't going to do anything about gun possession, maybe boxcutter regulations should be next....

One blog reader has asked if I felt unsafe jogging on the Riverwalk, especially after dark. Stray dogs actually have been more of an issue for me than potential criminals. Perhaps it's because potential criminals see me running and presume I'll escape them - as opposed to the dogs, which don't care and probably are much faster.

But Sunday's robbery adds to a list of cases raising questions about pedestrian or jogger safety. A woman was attacked at sunrise several weeks ago, while walking at Lakebottom Park. And last fall, we noted a man walking by himself on the Riverwalk wearing a "state prisoner" jacket [27 Oct 09]. I never heard an explanation about that. Based on recent events, he might have been heading to a game of billiards.

The WLTZ report showed a wooden bridge connecting sections of the Riverwalk, between South Commons and Port Columbus. That bridge was closed for renovation last year - and I was disappointed when it re-opened, because it still had no lighting. Sometimes I shake my keys when jogging on it after dark. Who knows how many people thought I was one of those Port Columbus ghosts.

It's nice to know police plan to have a special "beat" on the Riverwalk. But let's face it - they can't be everywhere all the time. So robberies like the one on Sunday still can happen, and criminals can get away before alleged victims can contact an officer. Especially if the robbers demand your iPhone....

It occurred to me Monday night that the Riverwalk lacks one big crime prevention tool. Why not do what Columbus State University did -- and install call boxes for contacting 911? They could be attached to the light poles already there, at half-mile or one-mile intervals. But of course, last year's rains remind me they'd also need to be waterproof.

A glowing call box could summon police to dangerous situations faster. It might even serve as a crime deterrent - as long as they're firmly secured, so people with passing boxcutters can't cut any cords.

-> Monday night marked our best poker showing in several months. Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Remember the problems with some Columbus natural gas bills earlier this year [24 Mar]? A reader offered this update Monday....

I just had the nicest young man repair my Atmos meter..There are some good people still there..He said they were still working on correcting the mess the meter reader made when he made up gas usage numbers... Loved the humor in Monday's political candidates who qualified for campaigns..Gave me a good Monday morning laugh...

Since summer tends to be the "off-season" for natural gas usage, Atmos Energy can get the bills right -- and even scare a few more customers into enrolling in the Budget Billing Plan.

Columbus remains a one-option city, when it comes to natural gas service. Atlanta residents can choose from several companies - yet none of them have gone after the "Extreme Makeover" fans, by offering natural gas in designer colors.

Let's see what other good and bad news took place Monday:

+ Qualifying week began from Columbus city offices. The Ledger-Enquirer reported Benny Parker will challenge District 3 Councilor Julius Hunter. Parker could gain a lot of votes by promising to bring in a big-name restaurant - you know, a Benny-hana.

+ A drive through Phenix City revealed the former CharBroil restaurant soon will become a Loco's Grill and Pub. That's nice - but I think Brewster's Ice Cream next door still will have less expensive desserts.

+ Atlanta firefighters safely rescued two window washers, who became stuck outside the 47th floor of a midtown skyscraper. Let's all be thankful none of the firefighters watch that new game show "Downfall."

+ Atlanta whipped Washington 5-0 in major league baseball. Phenix City native Tim Hudson outpitched Washington rookie sensation Stephen Strasberg - but Hudson probably realized things were still like the 1980s at Turner Field, and most of the crowd was NOT there to watch him.

+ Instant Message to The Red Barn on U.S. 280 in Phenix City: Thanks for hosting Monday night poker tournaments. But really now -- NO television screens showing the Strasberg-Hudson baseball battle?! And do that many customers really go to your bar to watch "Antiques Road Show" on GPB?

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