Friday, September 23, 2011

23 SEP 11: Water-Fall

Today is the first day of autumn in Columbus. During my college years, I drove home from campus one fall Saturday morning to relax with the family. But I wound up on top of the house, because the rest of the family decided it was time to put new shingles on the roof. For a while, political science textbooks seemed a bit more appealing.

After a hot and dry summer which left almost the entire Columbus area with an extreme drought, water seems to be making a comeback with the change of seasons. A surprise rainstorm developed in my neighborhood Thursday night, as I began to write this edition. Yes, I know it was cloudy almost all day - but who really expected the clouds to give up long after dark?

This week's rainfall may wind up costing Columbus more than we realized. Deputy City Manager David Arrington told WRBL Thursday Comer Auditorium might be declared a loss beyond repair, due to a partial roof cave-in and water damage. The gym floor has standing water - and it came too early in the season for basketball towel crews to train for the clean-up.

David Arrington says the city of Columbus has property damage insurance for Comer Auditorium, with a $50,000 deductible. So far, no one has answered the obvious question - whether the secret fund for the Columbus Blazers basketball team could have paid for that.

Comer Auditorium has been a landmark in Bibb City for decades - and perhaps the only fully-intact landmark left, after the River Mill fire of 2008. What will that neighborhood do, if the gym has to be torn down? With all the water on the floor, is it too late to postpone Monday's groundbreaking for the MidTown natatorium and move the location?

Only a few blocks from Comer Auditorium, rainfall probably was a welcome sight Thursday - at the Chattahoochee River. After all, we don't want to require whitewater rafters to bring their own gallon jugs to fill the course....

A "River Blast" event above the Columbus Riverwalk officially kicked off the "Ready 2 Raft" construction work downtown. We posted a picture of heavy equipment in the river Monday. This gathering allowed local leaders to show they can put on helmets and hard hats, too. Only when they absolutely have to do it, but they can.

Whitewater developer John Turner says something had to be done on the Chattahoochee downtown, because the river dams are more than 100 years old and probably would collapse before long. So why not show a little patience, and wait for that to happen. Several church groups would love to do a reenactment of the Red Sea crossing.

Phenix City Mayor Sonny Coulter joined Columbus Mayor Teresa Pike Tomlinson at the River Blast event. You may recall Coulter expressed concern months ago about his city being left out of the whitewater project's planning stages. He's apparently now satisfied a new place to raft won't give him the shaft.

(Since the entire Chattahoochee River downtown is considered part of Columbus, Sonny Coulter should be thankful he was invited to be part of the ceremony at all. But Phenix City skeptics say Coulter has a secret weapon at his disposal - a city sewage treatment plant which sometimes spills, and could make this a brown-water course.)

I'm not sure if any of the local leaders went for a sneak-preview boat ride on the river, but the evening news showed a group of people carrying a raft over their heads on the Columbus Riverwalk. You'd think Columbus State fine arts majors would have had classes to attend....

Exact details of the whitewater project still are not final, but promoters say it will end with a new restaurant overlooking the Chattahoochee. Why spend all that money for membership in the River Club, when you can visit a Captain D's where the fish seems fresher than ever?

With hope the right parts of Columbus dry out soon, let's quickly check other items from the last full day of summer....

+ Phenix City attorney Dana Gentry was arrested at his office. If I understand the legal language properly, he's charged with possessing a bad check as well as "criminal simulation." If criminal simulation is against the law, then how did Crimestoppers get away with all those reenactments on the evening news years ago?

+ Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski lectured Fort Benning soldiers about teamwork. Please do not be confused about this. Simply because he's known as "Coach K" does NOT mean he's to blame for high gas prices at Circle K.

+ WBOJ-FM "88.5 the Truth" announcer Garrett Lee told WXTX he went through three separate for "The X Factor" in Dallas. But an e-mail finally informed him he was NOT chosen for the TV show. From the clips I've seen on Fox, Lee might have made it to Hollywood if he had worn a wig and acted like Lady Gaga.

+ The Springer Opera House opened its new theatrical season with "The Blues Brothers Revue." I drove past the entrance before showtime and spotted a man near the door with sunglasses, a dark fedora hat - and a noticeable gray beard. Aw, c'mon! That's jazz, not the blues.

+ Troup County trampled Columbus in high school football 44-0. The game at Kinnett Stadium was delayed for awhile due to lightning - undoubtedly sparked by Troup returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.

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