Thursday, December 23, 2010

23 DEC 10: Working 2 the End

He officially has 11 more days in office. But Wednesday marked the second unofficial end of Jim Wetherington's term as mayor of Columbus. He apparently won't be in the Government Center office anymore - as in true law enforcement style, he enjoys time off for good behavior.

Richard Hyatt's website reports Jim Wetherington was in the mayor's office Wednesday by 8:00 a.m. If he didn't call out sick on his final work day, is he really a "man of the people?"

Jim Wetherington was given a nice final-day memory Wednesday. He joined in a ribbon-cutting at the new Fire Station #2 on 33rd Street. The station will not be put to use for a couple of weeks - so this clearly seemed timed to honor the outgoing mayor. But no one made him look silly, by putting a fire hat on his head.

The ceremony at Fire Station #2 was fitting for a couple of reasons. For one thing, it was built with money from the "streets and safety" Local Option Sales Tax. That's the tax Mayor Wetherington persuaded voters to approve -- but you don't hear anyone bragging about hiring new firefighters, do you?

The event also was fitting because it was a flashback to one of Mayor Jim Wetherington's big dilemmas - what to do about Fire Chief Jeff Meyer, after a series of missteps. Wetherington declared Meyer "salvageable," while civil rights activists didn't seem to think he deserved to manage a salvage yard.

But the outgoing mayor probably would want me to focus on the new building. Fire Station #2 will replace one on 28th Street that's been in use since 1948. So yes, it appears we can say is the number-two number two.

Fire Chief Jeff Meyer says the current Station 2 is SO OLD that it only has one restroom. But then again, it was built during a time when no one envisioned female firefighters. The only women in firehouses were posters of Dorothy Lamour and Betty Grable.

The new Station Two will have multiple restrooms and showers. And Chief Jeff Meyer adds it will have central air conditioning and heating, while the old station does not. It almost makes you wonder if anyone ever installed a smoke detector in the old building.

But back to the mayor: Jim Wetherington reportedly will leave public office by undergoing knee replacement surgery. He injured it playing softball -- since I can't think of any "knee-jerk reactions" as mayor which could be to blame.

After the surgery is completed, Jim Wetherington will retire to his home in Green Island Hills. As I reviewed the Blog Archives Wednesday night, I was reminded of the fuss this past year over police patrols in Green Island Hills and radar checks on River Road. Will history repeat itself with our new mayor - with Wynnton Road becoming a drag strip before school starts?

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E-MAIL UPDATE: This message was titled "Perfectly Named Product." And no, it's not about this blog....

Please recall the scene in "Dr. Strangelove..." when Keenan Wynn shot open the Coca-Cola vending machine so Peer Sellers could make a pay phone call. He warned Sellers that if he was lying about the situation, Wynn would "Report (him) to the Coca-Cola company!" Well, I am here to report ON the Coca-Cola company.

The past couple of days, I have tried to buy Coke Zero in 2-Liter bottles, as they are on sale this week in the two stores at which I usually shop for groceries. There was none to be found. I talked to a manager at the second place tonight. He informed me that he had called the distributor and was told there was zero Coke Zero in the warehouse. So, zero folks in Columbus can take advantage of the special on Zero. It may be available in other sizes/packages, though.

I must say, this is eerily reminiscent of the Christmas crazes for toys that were intentionally made scarce by the toy company, thus creating scads of free media and demand. What would the famous Coke Santa say about this?!

Anyway, I have got to say that Coke Zero is the most aptly named product to come down the pike (or not) as I can recall. It is the ultimate no-calorie, non-food, ever!

I personally prefer Coke Zero to Diet Coke, because it has a lot more flavor. But if you're pinching pennies, head to Publix -- as its store-brand two-liter sodas are on sale for 50 cents through Friday. Diet cherry cola certainly beats fattening egg nog.

Another e-mail must be held, until I can do a fact-check on it. So let's check some other Wednesday news....

+ The high temperature in Columbus reached 70 degrees F. It's not lasting long, as a cold front moved through in the evening. But I was able to run outside during the morning without bundling up - then make my friends and relatives in Northern states very jealous.

+ Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley presented a $16,000 check to the District Attorney's office. WRBL explained the D.A. gets ten percent of all money seized in gambling machine busts. OK - so which church gets the first tithe?

+ Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones revealed to WTVM he's made a wager on the Bowl Championship Series title game with a sheriff in Eugene, Oregon - a bet of pecans versus salmon. I'm not really concerned about Jones losing this bet. I'm more concerned about John Tyson doing one more anti-gambling sweep, and arresting him.

+ The man behind the extravagant Ludy's Christmas light display admitted he needs personal donations, because his roof has become damaged from putting up more lights every year. Should I feel sorry for him or not? Can't he barter a deal, to swap 2,000 lights with a repair company?

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) found Georgia Tech's men sagging at Siena 62-57. Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt returned to his old stomping ground - and if things don't improve in conference play, Hewitt may be stomping back there to be a radio announcer.

+ Instant Message to all area schoolchildren: You may have heard the weather forecast predicting possible snow flurries. I can promise you now, school will NOT be called off - because the flurries are expected Saturday night or Sunday morning.

BURKARD'S BEST BETS: Angel noodle soup at Old Siam restaurant downtown.... "Coastal Nocturne" on GPB Radio from 12:00 midnight-5:00 a.m. ET (free of Christmas music).... and allowing ten extra minutes to find a parking place at Peachtree Mall....

2010 IN REVIEW CON'D: April was a month of honor and dishonor in Columbus. Columbus State University faculty gave President Timothy Mescon a "no confidence" vote. Mark Shelnutt was voted a "best all-around" attorney. So why was Shelnutt arrested a second time, while Mescon still has his job?

The pollen count soared in the Columbus area in April, while WRBL noted the azaleas at Callaway Gardens bloomed three weeks later than usual. Isn't this amazing? Even the flowers had to take furlough days....

Fort Benning's generals surprised some people in April, by announcing they want to acquire 82,000 more acres of land. Did Teresa Tomlinson miss that announcement? This could solve the problem of all that underutilized land in Columbus South.

We had a blog exclusive in April, by covering the annual TSYS shareholders meeting. We went there in the wake of several e-mails by a whistle-blower in New Delhi. But that man's anti-TSYS blog has disappeared, replaced by one dealing with India's merchant navy. Join the navy, and you might escape the slander suits.

Plans were announced in April to develop a whitewater rafting course in the Chattahoochee River by 2012. I can't wait to see the Aflac duck take the first ride in it....

The big business news in April involved the Jay Auto Group buying Columbus Motor Company. Jay's becoming so dominant in the Columbus car market that I'm wondering if Gil is one of his cousins.

Phenix City's big stories in April included Kris Kennedy becoming the first female fire chief, and the City Council approving two new buildings at Garrett-Harrison Stadium. Hopefully the school board has learned its lesson, for not naming one of those buildings after Mayor Sonny Coulter.

The list of big-name celebrity visitors in April included Taylor Swift at Auburn University, Jerry Seinfeld at the RiverCenter and Steve Harvey at Fort Benning. Only Harvey returned to the area for a second appearance later in the year - but then again, he had a new game show to promote.

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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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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