Tuesday, December 28, 2010

28 DEC 10: The Bottle and the Badge

It's admittedly not a regular place for me to eat. But I've never had a problem with the menu at Steak 'n Shake. The burgers are a bit pricey, and I usually drink sodas instead of milk shakes. But I must say the year-end special "egg nog milk shake" sounds even stranger than Dunkin Donuts offering donuts made of gingerbread.

But those fancy milk shakes apparently weren't good enough for one customer early Monday. Columbus Police say a man was arrested after taking a bottle of Crown Royal inside Steak 'n Shake, and mixing alcoholic drinks for himself and his friends. I'm not sure why added "shots" of cherry and chocolate in your cola wouldn't be jolting enough.

It wasn't exactly a smuggled bottle of alcohol which put this group in trouble with the law. Police claim someone in the group started telling racist jokes in a loud voice. Either the person already was drunk, or he somehow thought he could be an opening act for Dave Chappelle.

Police say at some point, someone in the group threatened to wait for a Steak 'n Shake manager in the parking lot. That was considered a threat - so apparently the restaurant's drive-through service is well above average.

The incident reached the police blotter when the Steak 'n Shake manager threatened to call officers. That's when Joshua Welch reportedly pulled out a badge and claimed to be a Russell County Sheriff's Deputy. Columbus Police say that was a lie, because Welch was terminated from the reserve deputy program two years ago. If he was drunk, you know what that would mean - Welch's gripe was juiced.

Russell County Sheriff's officers say Joshua Welch never turned in his reserve deputy badge in 2008. Police say he boasted to the Steak 'n Shake manager: "I'll stack my badge against theirs." Considering Columbus now has about 100 extra police officers, a "stack" of one badge won't get you far.

Columbus Police told WRBL Joshua Welch was carrying several public safety scanners, because he actually is a volunteer firefighter. They make it sound like Welch was ready to fight almost anything -- including the restaurant staff.

Joshua Welch was arrested on charges of impersonating an officer. While the Monday evening newscasts focused on him, the Ledger-Enquirer website noted one other arrest. Blake Gunter is charged with misdemeanor assault - and he's a real Muscogee County Sheriff's officer. Did he try to prevent Welch's arrest? Or was this like an old-fashioned "piling on" penalty in football?

All this happened around 4:00 in the morning at Steak 'n Shake. Restaurants like this one with 24-hour service must see some strange customers in the hours before dawn. Intoxicated diners probably went there to "shoot the bull" long before Red Bull was added to the drink menu.

-> The winning number for us in poker Monday night was four. Find out why at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

BLOG UPDATE: Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers opened an "attended donation center" in Auburn Monday. Take that, you critics! What we may have here is simply a shift of resources - and who knows how many people will want to turn in University of Oregon mementos over the next couple of weeks.

Another retail development tops the rest of Monday's headlines....

+ J.D. Kinders Furniture on Manchester Expressway began a "going out of business" sale. Remember the Kinders commercial we mentioned in October, featuring the man wearing a poncho and big hat? [15 Oct] He sang during another furniture store's final sale years ago - and now he might as well be a fat lady.

+ Incoming State Senator Josh McKoon reported the Georgia General Assembly will work without a "cost of living" pay raise for the third year in a row. Legislators make about $17,000 per year - and with no raise, Republicans may have to pool their income to get a satellite TV subscription for watching Fox News Channel.

+ Delta Air Lines canceled about 700 flights from the Atlanta airport, due to the massive snowstorm in the Northeast. If Columbus had a 20-inch snowfall the way New York did, the Columbus Cottonmouths could have organized their version of a "Winter Classic."

+ The Shaw Classic in high school basketball began, with Tallassee topping Spencer in men's play 72-68. As for the.... hey, wait a minute! What's Tallassee doing in a tournament for Columbus-area teams? Did high schools in Montgomery decide this team was too good?

+ An unusual Atlanta football doubleheader found Air Force shooting down Georgia Tech 14-7 in the Independence Bowl, then New Orleans winning in the N.F.L. 17-14. So teams named the "Falcons" wound up going one for two - and Wes Durham would have been "down in the dauber" no matter which game he called.

(Wes Durham did the Georgia Tech radio broadcast in Shreveport, Louisiana, while the Atlanta Falcons had to find a substitute. But I'm not sure why he had to choose at all. Jorge Cantor once did play-by-play for dozens of World Cup soccer games from a studio in Miami.)

+ Georgia running back Caleb King was kicked off the team for Friday's Liberty Bowl, for academic reasons. Was he trying to follow the example of another famous King? Larry King prided himself on NOT reading the books of authors he interviewed.

+ Instant Message to Troy University football coach Larry Blakeney: Thank you for being such a visionary and pioneer. I mean, you were playing Tuesday night football games years ago -- and tonight the National Football League is trying it.

2010 IN REVIEW CON'D: August brought more record-breaking heat in Columbus. Russell County garbage workers called a wildcat strike, because trucks had no air conditioning. And it became SO HOT for Columbus Police that people were arrested in the Parks and Recreation scandal.

Columbus Police opened a new East Precinct in August on Buena Vista Road, in combination with CB&T. Did someone at the bank decide to follow the recent example of the Muscogee County Marshal -- and wait 138 years before naming the precinct after Mayor Wetherington?

The Russell County School Board selected a new superintendent in August. So far, Mike Green hasn't said much publicly - perhaps out of fear he'll get a "recruiting visit" from Jimmy Wetzel.

This blog uncovered a well-hidden legal settlement during August, involving WTVM and former anchor Dee Armstrong. We found it as the TV station wrangled with Mediacom over a retransmission agreement - something that's happening again this week with Direct TV. Fred Ward would have put this fight inside a wrestling ring somehow....

August was a month for new businesses in Columbus. Headquarter Nissan opened in the building which was Rob Doll's dream. A short test drive away, The Fresh Market opened -- with prices which are a food stamp recipient's nightmare.

Military families rejoiced in August, as the Third Brigade returned home to Fort Benning from Iraq. The arrests of those "Craigslist call girls" at Columbus motels around the same time was merely a coincidence - really.

The sports highlight of August was the Columbus Northern All-Stars reaching the Little League World Series. They didn't go all the way, compared with 2006 - setting an example Roy Barnes was to follow in the Georgia Governor's race three months later.

The media prank of the year fooled many people in Columbus during August. A website circulated a fake photo of a shark in the Chattahoochee River. At least it wasn't in one of those new water tanks along River Road....

The Blog of Columbus had more than 38,000 unique visitors in the first nine months of this year! To advertise to them, make a PayPal donation, offer a story tip or comment, write me - but be warned, I may post your e-mail comment and offer a reply.

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