Friday, February 25, 2011

25 FEB 11: Man, the Lifeboats

Thursday's high temperature in Columbus was 77 degrees F. - a perfect day for getting outside and having fun. Unless, of course, the early start of pollen season has you staying inside and having phlegm....

The top outdoor activity on many minds Thursday seemed to be whitewater rafting. It was the hot topic at the annual meeting of Uptown Columbus Inc. It came up at an evening community meeting with the mayor in Bibb City. And based on what the national news showed, it might even bring Prince William and Kate Middleton to Columbus for a visit.

Uptown Columbus hopes for a windfall from the new whitewater rafting course on the Chattahoochee River. It's scheduled to open next year around Labor Day - and some people can't wait for the dams near downtown to be blown up this July, during the first-ever Thunder IN the Hooch.

The whitewater rafting course was promoted at Thursday's Uptown Columbus meeting by Joe Jacobi of USA Canoe/Kayak. Jacobi is an Olympic gold medalist, who was dubbed by one canoeing magazine the "Paddler of the Century." And you thought they only gave that award to elementary school principals.

. Richard Bishop of Uptown Columbus Inc. told WLTZ if all goes well, construction on the rafting course will begin this summer. This puts us in a bit of a quandary. Do we root for lower river levels, to move the project along faster - even if it means another drought turns everyone's lawn brown again?

Richard Bishop estimates the whitewater course will lead to 700 new local jobs. Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson told WXTX Thursday night she hopes some of the jobs will develop in the Bibb City neighborhood. Of course, this depends on how many lemonade stands the city will allow along the Riverwalk at 38th Street.

The whitewater project now has its own website and Facebook page. The "Ready 2 Raft" project has been given the name "River City Rush" - so please don't put that name on speeding cars along Manchester Expressway.

Promoters also promise with the downtown dams such as The Eagle and Phenix removed, the Chattahoochee River will become "a fisherman's paradise." But that's the very concern some people have. They've expressed concern fishing will be restricted, to put rafters first. We don't want a fishing hook ripping a blow-up pontoon boat, you know.

Yet Columbus has plenty of other prime spots for fishing, away from the whitewater rafting course. This week's news of a 61-pound catfish in Uchee Creek should be evidence of that - even if the conspiracy theorists think it's also evidence of Fort Benning soldiers conducting some kind of uranium test,

In fact, several weeks ago I took a morning run on the Riverwalk to the area of RoadAmerica - and at a landing where I turn around, I saw one man with three fishing poles set up. "Isn't that cheating a little?" I asked in an attempt at humor.

"Why don't you just keep running?" the man answered. Since he could have launched a line my way, that's exactly what I did.

-> We've had a very good week in online poker. So did Thursday night's local game go well? Read what happened at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: A reader titled this message, "So help me...."

my son told me the other day that a friend of one of his Facebook friends suggested that they drag the tree poisoning guy out into the street at Toomer's Corner and STONE HIM TO DEATH so that everyone could see how serious an offense this incident really is. Really?

At Auburn University, this seems a bit extreme. At the University of California, it might be considered an inspiring way to take an environmental stand.

The new attorney for the alleged "Al from Dadeville" talked with reporters about the case Thursday. Glennon Threatt of Birmingham says he'll attempt to make Harvey Updyke "look human." Updyke may need every photo from his Texas State Patrol days he can find -- especially if he handed teddy bears to children.

Glennon Threatt has a reputation for taking big-name clients in Alabama. He was the attorney for Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford last year - in a trial that ended with Langford convicted of every count and forfeiting his office. Why didn't Harvey Updyke try calling Mikki Beth Stiller instead?

Glennon Threatt said next week's preliminary hearing for Harvey Updyke has been postponed to mid-April. He explained it was scheduled for the same day as Courtney Lockhart's sentencing -- and the last thing Lee County needs is head-to-head competition between the two trials of the century.

Now let's see what else was blooming in the Thursday warmth....

+ WTVM reported the number of traffic citations issued by Columbus Police more than doubled last year, to nearly 10,500. So now you see how the crime rate is going down - because criminals are driving too fast making their getaways.

+ New Census Bureau numbers confirmed Phenix City has no "majority" race. The 2010 count found 48.7 percent of the population is Caucasian, 46.6 percent is African-American - and the 2.2 percent claiming "two or more races" will become the target of every talk show host on the radio dial.

(The 2010 Census also shows Lee County was among Alabama's fastest-growing counties in the last decade, and now has 140,000 people. But Barbour County's population declined to about 27,500 -- and the closing of the Eufaula Taco Bell could make matters simply worse.)

+ Florida flew past Georgia in men's college basketball 71-62. This could hurt the Bulldogs' chances of making the NCAA tournament - but it could make the team more close-NIT.

SCHEDULED THIS WEEKEND: Are there some people I've neglected to mention here? One reader seems to think so....

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