3 JAN 11: Raining, Puppies and Dogs
The rain came later than expected, which allowed for a nice quiet Saturday morning stroll in my neighborhood. But the storm eventually came, leaving about 1.5 inches of rain to start 2011 -- just in time to thwart the Columbus Water Works rate increase.
The weekend storm brought the first complaint about government services in 2011. A Phenix City woman told WTVM she called police Saturday because her three-month-old puppy was stuck in a storm drain. The dog was getting soaked - and who knows how much carpet damage it could have caused, once it was safely inside to shake off the water.
A Phenix City police officer went to the woman's home to offer advice - but the officer's supervisor ruled animal control would NOT be called. It's not clear what led to that ruling. Was it a matter of having to pay city employees extra money on a holiday? Or was Alabama's bowl game on ESPN considered a higher priority?
The frustrated woman finally called the Russell County Sheriff's Office. Their animal control unit showed up, and helped the Phenix City police officer free the puppy from the storm drain. This should have been a moment of celebration. After all, only a few years ago the Sheriff's Department and Police Department couldn't even share the same firing range.
But the owner of the puppy wonders why Phenix City refused to send animal control personnel to the storm drain. She says the drain is city property, even though it's in her backyard. If not, she might be tempted to tamper with the water meter next weekend.
I had my own difficulty involving a dog Sunday, but it was very different. A late-afternoon northbound jog on the Riverwalk was challenging enough, going into the wind. But when a big loose southbound dog approached, that was too much pressure to take....
I abruptly stopped, remembering a work-related tip I was given in 2010 - stop for dogs, instead of trying to run from them. But as it happened, another jogger approached from behind me and seized the dog's attention by making loud noises. Why, he was almost like that Phenix City woman calling the TV station.
"I've got your back," the other jogger said after seemingly confusing the dog. But then I saw another large southbound dog approaching down the Riverwalk in the distance. The only "back" I was concerned about was getting home safely.
In the distance I could also see someone sitting on a park bench. As I jogged home, that person escorted the dogs down the Riverwalk. Apparently he/she doesn't know Columbus leash laws apply to the Riverwalk, which is considered a park -- and happens to have the nicest baseball stadium and gymnasium of any park in town.
This was one time when I wished the Columbus "Police beat" for the Riverwalk was more of a reality. My run was probably going to be average, anyway -- but the unknown animals made me trade a little too much physical gain for emotional strain.
E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of animal stories, let's get caught up on messages from recent days....
You wrote: "A 'cat head' in the South refers to a biscuit." [31 Dec 10]
Oh, man! I'll never look at biscuits and gravy the same way again. At any rate, maybe that's why the Shoney's down by you didn't open back up. They have some of the best biscuits and gravy on the planet. But, if you're calling them "cat heads"… well, that's a little difficult to digest.
That was a surprise for me, too -- an explanation offered by another blog reader after we drove past a Waverly Hall restaurant [25-26 Feb 10]. Why "Cat Heads" doesn't refer to catfish is still a mystery to me....
We also mentioned last week we'd SpellCheck our turn-of-the-year lists. That apparently inspired this:
When I check the spelling in a written e-mail with the word Obama in it my spell checker tries to change it to drama...
That used to be a regular feature of my "LaughLine" humor service, which I've thought about restarting here -- "SpellChuckles" about names or locations in the news. For instance, my computer SpellCheck suggests State Rep. Mike Cheokas should have the last name "Cuckoos." Democrats who watched him change parties in December probably would agree.
BLOG UPDATE: It's a big day in Columbus, as the city's first female mayor takes office. Teresa Tomlinson has scheduled her inauguration for 5:00 p.m. If that seems late, remember one of her campaign commercials - as she may be spending part of the day hanging streamers and blowing up balloons.
WRBL noted another inaugural change Sunday night. The two new Columbus Councilors won't take the oath of office until Tuesday. Mayor Jim Wetherington's ceremony in 2007 had all the inaugurations together. But then, his speech only took about ten minutes - so maybe Bruce Huff and Judy Thomas know something.
(In fact, the new mayor's inauguration today wasn't even mentioned on the city website Sunday night. Maybe this is her way of using up the extra campaign money?!)
One early challenge for Teresa Tomlinson may involve demands from civil rights activists for an outside investigation of Columbus Fire/EMS. I asked her about that in November, before the runoff forum at Green Island Country Club. She said much of the complaining stems from a "distrust" of Jim Wetherington's leadership. We'll see if Tomlinson changes that today - perhaps by asking the activists to bring refreshments.
Look for our coverage of the inauguration Tuesday. Now let's check other headlines from the holiday weekend....
+ A Muscogee County Sheriff's officer was fired, in the wake of his arrest last week at Steak n' Shake. Blake Gunter was charged with assault, and reportedly is a friend of the man accused of impersonating an officer. Those two may have to share phony badges now.
+ Columbus Police told the Ledger-Enquirer two men had an argument on Victory Drive over a car sale. Except they argued while driving cars in separate lanes of the road, reportedly ending it with a sideswipe collision and one arrest. Maybe NASCAR's off-season really IS too long....
+ Landline phone service across Alabama was deregulated for big companies such as AT&T. That means the state Public Service Commission no longer sets the rates - and you're left to haggle with the telemarketers about bundling plans on your own.
+ Alabama mauled Michigan State 49-7 in an Orlando bowl game, meaning Nick Saban beat two colleges he used to coach in the same season. The Miami Dolphins should be thankful they're a pro football team....
+ The Atlanta Falcons won the N.F.C. South title by crushing Carolina 31-10. The Falcons will play their first playoff game at home on 15 Saturday -- the same night as the Miss America pageant. We can guess some players will record the pageant, but should Miss Georgia return the favor?
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