Thursday, January 06, 2011

6 JAN 11: They've Got Us Surrounded

OK, OK - maybe I touched a nerve with some readers Wednesday. Maybe the Commanding General at Fort Benning really is more powerful than any official in Columbus. If the general can gobble up all the land around the city, he could make the new mayor feel as "comfortable" as Saddam Hussein did in Iraq.

We already knew Fort Benning wanted to expand its acreage. But Wednesday, the potential expansion zone increased - and now includes land in Harris and Talbot Counties, along with Marion and Russell. This strategy is starting to look familiar. Didn't the Army use an "end run" to liberate Kuwait 20 years ago?

WRBL reports Fort Benning is looking at about 23,000 acres of land along the Harris-Talbot County line, mostly in Talbot. The area is largely used now as commercial timberland. You can start an office pool today on how many controlled burns soldiers will have to do there.

The U.S. Army sent Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley a letter about this possible expansion in December. I assume the same letter was sent to county commissioners as well, but Jolley was the only person who talked about it Wednesday night. He's an Army veteran - so is he an advance spy, locking up the other officials?

Mike Jolley says under this proposal, about 5,700 acres of Harris County land would be used for Fort Benning training. The sheriff openly doubts that will lead to Army tanks on Highway 315 - but logging trucks on that road probably are almost as slow now.

Sheriff Mike Jolley says a Fort Benning expansion would be good for the economy of Harris County. He explains more restaurants would be built, and more military families might call his county home - the better for writing speeding tickets, when they run late and race down Interstate 185 at 5:00 a.m.

But on here -- Mike Jolley added Harris County's population has grown 27 percent in the last decade. That should have been enough to stir up new businesses and restaurants. But drive between Columbus and LaGrange, and you'll be stunned to find interstate exits which still don't have a Waffle House.

People in Chattahoochee County probably would take issue with Mike Jolley as well. Even with the construction at Fort Benning due to base realignment, Cusseta doesn't appear to have much additional retail business. The lines for lunch-hour fried chicken at those U.S. 27 convenience stores must be dreadful.

The Army apparently is examining whether an expansion of Fort Benning to Harris and Talbot Counties will pose environmental problems. The military has considered the county line a "buffer zone" due to all the timber. But if Kindles are replacing books, all those trees won't be needed nearly as much....

I see one potential fringe benefit from all this. If Fort Benning grabs a lot choice land close to the Columbus city limits for training, wouldn't that mean more Army families would have to live in Columbus? But then again, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson may decide the best use for underutilized land is to let Army tanks roll over it.

-> 2011 is off to a good start in the poker room (real and online). Follow what's happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: Wednesday's top blog tipster read our Blog Exclusive, and wants to respond to it....

Sir Richard:

I'm sorry if I've placed you in a quandary. But, in my opinion, you should leave the "Good Humor" to the guy in the ice cream truck!

It's obvious that many of your readers, including myself, turn to you daily for the latest news. The mainstream media is pathetic; and getting worse by the day.

We in East Alabama are in far worse shape than our Georgia neighbors. Only one cable provider exists - and it just taps off the cable outlets and the two TV stations across the river. Term it desperation if you must - but I do turn to you for help, and so far you have never failed me.

In today's BLOG you relate that many of your visitors turn to you daily for their (dirt) news.

Look in the mirror Sir Richard. You have a large circulation of those who want to be informed of local events. and not be left in the vacuum of unreported incidents that occur all too often.

In closing - let me just say - that the chain of events that occured recently in "Hurt'sboro are a "Hush-Hush matter at Town Hall. It never would have surfaced if you hadn't stepped in, and it took involvement by the Russell County authorities to clean up the mess.

In the movie HIGH NOON, starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly, The theme song had a line that went something like this: "Please don't desert me my Darlin." Well! I absolutely refuse to refer to as my "Darlin'' but I hope you will continue to probe into any "news" events as they come to you.

R.J. Schweiger

OK, I took a good look in the mirror -- and I saw enough gray hairs on my head already.

I took a big risk three years ago, and asked a Big Blog Question about whether this blog should give up humor and focus solely on investigations. I was prepared to abide by the results - but voters narrowly decided the jokes should remain. [25 Sep 08] All sorts of Columbus and Phenix City officials probably have been grateful ever since.

That question will NOT be repeated now because after eight years of blogging, I honestly don't want to head in that direction. How far would the "all news" coverage have to go -- and where could it stop without disappointing the people disappointed by those news outlets now? If a TV news team can't attend both Columbus and Phenix City Council at the same time, one blogger certainly can't.

I'm sure there are plenty of other news sources in metro Columbus which would be interested in last weekend's disturbance involving a Hurtsboro police officer. Some of them might not get to the story until after next Monday night's big football game, but they'd be interested.

And that leads to another Wednesday topic, and a different sort of question....

Richard...can you tell me how to get to the Auburn web cam at Toomer's Corner?


Why, of course! You drive northwest on U.S. 280, turn left at Interstate 85 to go south....

Oh wait - you probably only want to see what the web-cam is showing. It's one of several set up around town by the city of Auburn and the university. You can tell this is a liberal city, because the Young Republicans haven't staged a rally yet to complain about the invasion of their privacy.

The big Auburn story of the moment tops our review of other news from National Whipped Cream Day (no, my Wal-Mart tub stayed in the freezer)....

+ WXTX reported after Bowl Championship Series practice, the Auburn football team chowed down on 750 pounds of pork. It's no wonder Governor Bob Riley isn't in Arizona yet. A fiscal conservative might faint at the site of so much "pork" being enjoyed.

+ Two SOA Watch protesters were sentenced to six months in prison for trespassing onto Fort Benning last November. Next time, they need to dress like members of the Columbus State club football team.

+ The new U.S. Congress took office, and Macon news media found the brother of House Speaker John Boehner working at a middle Georgia restaurant he owns. Greg Boehner didn't even have a television showing the passing of the gavel - which tells me the cable TV rates must be outlandish there, too.

+ Roundball Night in Dixieland (tm) saw Columbus State's men struggle to win 71-63 over Brewton-Parker. Maybe next season, the Cougars should schedule an even easier pushover -- CNN's Parker/Spitzer.

Final 2010 score: more than 54,700 unique visitors to The Blog of Columbus! 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.

BURKARD BULK MAIL INDEX: 793 (+ 31, 4.1%)

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.

© 2003-11 Richard Burkard, all rights reserved.

site stats