August 6, 2011
Stories this photo appears in:
OPINION: Businesses, citizens concerned about overly aggressive handout seekers
The city of Albany is considering an ordinance that would allow police to deal with overly aggressive panhandlers.
OPINION: Top police officials meet with neighborhood watch groups
Albany Police Department officials tell neighborhood watch volunteers to “get more nosy.”
OPINION: Albany Rescue Mission will be recognized with an Albany mayoral proclamation
Larry Hample and the Albany Rescue Mission have served thousands of homeless people over the last 25 years.
Everette Freeman leaves Albany for Colorado after a tumultuous nine-year career as president of Albany State University.
A continuing disagreement between city and county officials threatens the collection of LOST funds for the next decade.
As America crumbles, no one is right
A ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court on local-option sales tax collections has officials trying to decide what’s next.
Local elections may not get the ink of national elections, but most agree they’re even more important.
Ideology trumps right or wrong in an America that seems to have lost its way.
The majestic Flint River is where Albany's future and past merge.
Sports have become too big-time to cut coaches and athletes any slack.
Albany Fire Department personnel are drawing rave reviews for a statewide conference held Sept. 11-14, but fire officials say there’s plenty of praise to go around.
Sometimes an overactive imagination can be a dangerous thing.
The “joke” report of Beatle Paul McCartney’s death in 1969 became a worldwide phenomenon.
The time has come for strict laws to be enacted making driving while using cellphones — and especially texting while driving — illegal.
Construction on an extensive downtown sidewalk project isn’t quite done yet, but when it’s finished it will be quite impressive.
So this is what extremism sounds like.
The question many Americans are asking themselves these days as talk of war once again fills the air is whether the United States, with all its domestic problems, can still afford to think of itself as the world’s police force. Especially in a world that doesn’t really like us.
With its purchase of Palmyra Medical Center now apparently complete, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital has complete control of health care in metro Albany.
An 87-year-old Albany woman says the city is overcharging for utility services, and she’s got the records to prove it.
Pop musician John Lennon’s “We’re more popular than Jesus” comment stunned the world in 1966.
A quick look at municipal elections, economic development and the vengeance of the Lord.
Accusing government officials of incompetence has become a hip thing to do these days.
This week, dozens and dozens of youngsters in Dougherty County returned to school wearing new socks and T-shirts and carrying new bookbags filled with pens, crayons, pencils, paper and notebooks, all of which they picked up free of charge Saturday at various locations around Albany.
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We of the baby boom generation have our conceits, and one of our boldest is that we cornered the market on anthemic songs about global issues that really matter.
I have a confession to make: I like to read.
As the 2013 election cycle — the so-called mid-term election — kicks into full swing, local, state and national candidates have begun to formulate and release to the public plans of attack that they hope will propel them into office.
I experienced a sense of deja vu last weekend with the announcement of the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder/manslaughter trial.
I laugh at people like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin (not to his face, of course), the beardy guy on “Duck Dynasty,” Honey Boo Boo and about half of the singers whose songs sit at the top of the country music charts these days.
I shed a tear for a horse ...
I laughed first when I read the story last week about the parents in Encinitas, Calif., who would not let their kids participate in physical education classes in which yoga was being taught. The reason? Teachers in the community just north of San Diego are trying to force an Eastern RELIGION on their kids, some parents claimed. Right.
We're all, I believe, guilty of lamenting the loss of local-owned and -operated businesses after the fact.
Who knew it would be a 60-something white woman from the South who would get a large segment of this country — many who’d never considered it before — talking openly about race?
Entertainment Weekly, the magazine that purports to have its pointer and middle finger firmly planted on the pulse of the entertainment biz, created a stir this week when it released its all-time Top 100 movies, TV shows and albums.
We live in the richest nation in the world, probably in the Top 5 all-time, and there are opportunities here for any person — yes, any person, or at least any person willing to get off his or her couch and work — to achieve well beyond any doubter’s expectations.
While an Albany group’s plans to build a Paula Deen Museum are no doubt low priority for the celebrity chef today as she goes into damage-control mode to try and keep her considerable empire from crumbling around her, the museum idea that generated so much excitement in this community has taken a damaging, if not mortal, hit.
Already late for another meeting — that's one thing you learn when you deal with government in any capacity: there's always another meeting — I left last Friday's joint Dougherty Finance Committee/Library Board gathering intent on making up time.
As the Dougherty County Commission prepares to make a for-now final decision Monday on its Library Board's request to provide funds to re-open one of two library branches closed a half-year ago because the system couldn't afford to keep five branches open, commissioners should keep one thing in mind.
Even rock stars, secret agents and strip club bouncers get over the WOW! factor of their jobs after a while. Why should journalists be any different?
I laughed when someone suggested (in a comment) that I had something to do with what commentary was pulled from the website or that I was somehow instrumental in the change in policy that has so far silenced the Ihope4albanys and whatthehecks who could be counted on to drop their own brand of wisdom on us.
There is a general concensus here — as is the case in most communities with self-image issues — that the people with the power to actually make significant changes are talkers more so than they are doers.
I was listening to a group of folks play the one-up game while discussing terrible neighbors the other day ... the old “my neighbors are the worst ever because ...” argument.
Ah, yes, I remember the good old days ... back before automobiles became rolling phone booths ... when a person could fill up his vehicle without having to take out a personal loan ... when planning a cruise vacation was not seen as a potentially deadly activity for thrill-seeking adventurers looking for new and dangerous challenges.
A two-hour retrospective/final episode of NBC’s “The Office” ... talk about huge! That’s what she said.
Things you notice — and other thoughts that pop into your head — while riding alone on the pleasantly solitary back roads between Southwest Georgia and Florida’s Gulf Coast, listening to some old Dylan....
A Sept. 28, 2012 Albany Herald report, using information provided by the Dougherty County Tax office, showed that 24 percent of Dougherty County’s gross tax digest is owned by nonprofits and, therefore, is non-taxable.
If we pay close enough attention, life has a way of giving us what we need to overcome some of our inequities.
The state of South Carolina has a new motto: If you’re governor and you need to take a few days to hike the Appalachian Trail down to Argentina, it’s no big deal.
Even with the emergence of a growing list of sports and entertainment celebrities from this region — baseball’s Buster Posey, country music’s Luke Bryan and Dallas Davidson, TV’s Phillip Phillips — there is arguably no local celebrity more, well, celebrated than Albany girl Paula Deen.
Periodically, the Dougherty County and Albany City commissions appoint citizens to various advisory boards, committees and commissions whose purpose is to provide direction on issues related to the boards’ special areas of interest.
It is, perhaps, a sign of the political times that two Albany City Commission candidates — B.J. Fletcher in Ward III and Bobby Coleman In Ward II — announced a full four months ahead of Aug. 26-30 qualifying for the city's municipal elections their intention to run for office.
Like clockwork, the comments started, no more than a few minutes after businesswoman B.J. Fletcher announced plans to run against incumbent Christopher Pike for a seat on the Albany City Commission.
For me, the 2013 Wanee Music Festival will forever be remembered as Wanee II, who cares if it was actually the ninth Wanee. And it will be remembered as the weekend Mother Nature decided to show off all the tools at her disposal.
Gov. Nathan Deal’s campaign promise made to Albany voters — voters whose futures, it must be noted, are directly tied to the Flint and the region’s acquifer system — rings very hollow today in light of his assault on the state’s, and particularly middle and south Georgia’s, river systems.
For country music fans, talk these days is not so much about the latest hits by superstars like Tim McGraw, Jason Aldean, Eric Church, Florida Georgia Line, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Lady Antebellum and Luke Bryan, or even when everyone’s going to catch on to the fact that Taylor Swift doesn’t really sing country music.
My blood started boiling as I surveyed the scene, and I found myself amazed anew at the human race’s capacity for cruelty. A pack of young men, four strong, walked away from where an older couple stood looking warily after them. The four were laughing uncontrollably, pointing at the couple and falling all over each other in their mirth. The old couple looked wounded, but not in any physical way. It was more a look of embarrassed resignation, of stunned disbelief. I noticed tears on the woman’s cheeks. Trying to size up the situation, I asked the couple if they were OK. The man waved off my concern.
I was listening to a few local good old boys solve the world’s problems the other day — I wasn’t eavesdropping, just happened to be standing within earshot and couldn’t help but overhear — and one of the things one of them said got me to thinking.
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And so it was, on a cold and blustery night not well-suited for man nor beast, that some 12,000 of the South’s faithful were shown a modern-day musical truth: There are indeed still gods who walk among us.
I’ve been thinking about the words of that rock and roll philosopher John Fogerty lately, who wisely forewarned us, “Someday never comes.”
All this warm-and-fuzzy going on from reformed squawkers in response to The Herald’s new Bright Side column has inspired me to share a few of my own positive observations in this ongoing fight of good vs. evil.
I don’t know if it was the determined set of his shoulders or the angry look on his face that made me stop to talk with the man picking up trash along the rural Lee County road.
I don’t quite remember how they did it, but somehow in the middle of an intelligent discussion about current entertainers I found myself saying words I’d never intended to say out loud: I have something of a man-crush on Justin Timberlake.
It was tough for someone like me, who was raised on baseball and football, to admit, but I decided quite a few years back that the most exciting sporting event in our sports-mad country is the NCAA basketball tournament.
Now, given this job, I’m a curious person by nature. The way you find out about potential news stories in this business is to become a good listener and try to pay close attention to the things going on around you. But I can say with all assurances that there was nothing this loud and obnoxious woman had to say during her hour-plus monologue, which was interrupted only sparingly by her cramming food into her constantly running mouth, that would spark even a passing interest on my part. And, judging from the looks of disgust she got — and ignored — from other diners in the restaurant, none of them had any interest in her personal affairs either.
Albany and Dougherty County citizens got two very different perspectives on the high-dollar government bid process Tuesday with polar opposite results. That it was those citizens’ money being used to cover both bids made the process even more compelling.
There are some words that are always going to get a reaction. It’s like pushing a magic button: Say the word, get the response.
I listened, transfixed, as the young man told his story. It was one of those train-wreck narratives, one where you want to turn away — to get as far out of earshot as possible — but you can’t.
It doesn’t take a particularly vivid imagination to conjure up an image of Butch Mosely, 10-gallon cowboy hat pulled low over his eyes, riding into town on his trusty steed, his steely-eyed gaze set, unwavering, as he prepares to clean up whatever mess has sprung up with the local school system.
Yes, there are more amazing creations than the modern cell phone — penicillin, airplanes and rock and roll come to mind — but there really aren’t that many.
As I read Herald Sportswriter Mike Phillips’ moving and excellent piece on the planned closure of Shellman’s Randolph Southern School in Wednesday’s Herald, I couldn’t help but think back to the early 1980s and the Irwin Academy girls softball team that I had the honor of coaching.
I had a conversation last week with someone who took it upon himself to point out some of my many flaws.
I’ll reserve passing judgment on the elected officials who serve this city and county, leave that to the paying customers who seem to have a firmer grasp of the supposed ineptitude.
I happened upon Kevin Costner’s underappreciated “For Love of the Game” over the weekend, and while it was never in contention to win any Academy Awards, there was one scene in particular that grabbed my attention.
The first time I visited the woman who would become my wife, she proudly introduced me to her two cats. I quickly told her I wasn’t a cat person. “You’ll adjust,” she said. I should have known right then this woman saw things most normal folks didn’t.
The more they talked, the more enthusiastic the three young men became. It was an enthusiasm that was contagious.
The time has come for some local politicians to stop perpetually running for office and do the job they were elected to do.
Dear Hollywood (and points north): A few facts about the people of the rural South that you obviously are not aware of:
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Overheard by a fly on the wall in Phil Gingrey’s Marietta office: “Nurse, call Dr. JuJu’s office and have them deliver a fresh batch of leeches, stat. I have a patient here that’s going to need a good blood-letting.” Just shows that when you get around crazy, you should expect crazy.
I was waiting recently for a couple of the rogues who are among the few who don’t mind being seen with me in public at one of our favorite fine dining establishments — we refer to it alternately as Chez BK (imagine that being written in large, swirly letters) and the BK Lounge, although there are some of the less cultured who call it Burger King — when a lady walked up and asked if I had “something to give her.”
One of my favorite lines by late comedian Richard Pryor: "I go down to the courthouse looking for justice, and that's what I see: Just us."
For people who think the United States’ flawed two-party system of electing its president will remain intact through the 2016 election — and for those who thought the 2012 campaign was wa-a-y-y-y-y-y-y-y-y too long — a sobering note....
A few leftover thoughts from 2012 as we dive headlong into 2013....
As I slowly recovered from the shock of the tragic events that unfolded in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, I watched/read/listened with growing disbelief to the reaction of many Americans to the shooting of 20 children and six school officials at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
I don't mean this as an insult, but there's almost always been something slightly off about Albany.
Since we made it through doomsday — stupid Mayans! — it’s now officially time to start looking ahead to a new year.
To all you skeptics out there who are poo-pooing the ancient Mayans and their calendar, which seems to indicate Friday will be the last day of our existence: Won’t you have egg on your face — along with bits of other matter that may have been blown to bits by some cataclysmic happening — if the wise tribe was right all along?
As the end of another year approaches — and, yes, it does seem that we were just “auld lang syning” 2012 in — it’s almost time for all the “best-of” lists commemorating the past 365 days.
As I sat in my car at a red city traffic signal in the gray light of approaching dawn, my mind on nothing in particular, my wandering eye focused on a figure sitting alone at an outdoor table.
Correspondence: "You think you know so much, but you're always talking about something that you think is wrong. I never see you offer any solutions." Response: "I don't think anyone would listen too closely to my ideas, but since you asked ..."
There are some stories that, with their telling, elicit within us a desire to share similar stories of our own.
It was in Jasper, Ala., during the post-Thanksgiving/pre-Christmas semi-holiday period that I was given an eye-opening dose of reality, courtesy of 3-year-old Sam Fletcher.
SCENE: A gathering of self-appointed delegates for the government of the New By-God Republic of Texas. The delegation — made up entirely of 55-and-over white men and Herman Cain — has been arguing for hours, trying to out-shout each other when a distinguished-looking 70-something gentleman with an impressive head of white hair and a long handlebar mustache takes off his black 10-gallon hat, pulls a Colt .45 from his holster and fires three shots in the air.
If you're interested in seeing the not-so-fine art of "not in my backyard" on display, by all means attend an Albany City Commission meeting some Tuesday morning.
I hadn’t been able to do it for so long, listen to Warren Zevon’s 2003 album he made with friends like Bruce Springsteen, Dwight Yoakam, Don Henley, Jackson Brown and Tom Petty while he was dying.
Most of us who dine out on a regular basis develop a list of favorite eating establishments, whether for the quality of the food we’re served, the service we’re provided or other intangibles such at atmosphere, convenience, price or popularity.
Here’s what’s perhaps the saddest thing about the results of the Nov. 6 presidential election: The primary response of President Obama’s local supporters has been the unbelievably childish equivalent of “na-na na-na boo-boo,” while the response of local Mitt Romney supporters has been one of bitterness and random conspiracy theories that would make Oliver Stone blush.
For many music fans who call themselves "purists" -- I call them posers and snobs, but it's semantics -- The Who did not perform the entirety of their 1973 masterpiece "Quadrophenia" at Duluth's Gwinnett Center Arena Monday night.
Dougherty County voters, many of whom are licking their wounds today over the defeat of political candidates they supported, should take consolation in the fact that they at least helped bring about historic change during this election cycle.
Some see the glass as half empty. Some see it as half full.
As regular readers of this publication know, The Herald’s Editorial Board has chosen to endorse Mitt Romney in his quest to unseat Barack Obama as President of the United States.
We're taught in these enlightened times that we must not, at any cost, ever utter such objectionable terms as the f-word, the s-word and the n-word.
Politics in America is a funny thing. Giving in to the demand for hyperbole, we for some reason try to make a popularity contest — one that in recent years has devolved into a who can make the most money competition — a matter of life and death.
Back in the 1980s, when he was singing about doing unprintable things to the police rather than playing one on television, rapper Ice-T said something that stuck with me.
It would have been easy enough for the Dougherty County Commission to ignore Shirley and Eddie Nelson.
Here's what happens when you align yourself in lock-step with one ideological/political set of beliefs: You open the door to very real charges of hypocrisy.
Herald photographer Joe Bellacomo and I got into a spirited debate this weekend. Joe knows his music, and he took exception to my proclamation that -- based solely on vocal talent (and, of course, my own personal opinion) -- singer/songwriter Abi Permenter has a better voice even than Leesburg "American Idol" winner Phillip Phillips.
Those Albany Herald employees like me who have no use, time or understanding of the business world settled into shock Tuesday as our boss, John Hetzler, explained the reality of our situation.
My name is Fletcher, and I'm a musicholic.
Every sports fan has something of a love-hate relationship with his favorite team.
With all these numbers being tossed around — the super wealthy 1 percent, the inconsequential 47 percent, the unemployed 8.2 percent, the rest of us 99 percent — you have to be some kind of math wiz to figure out what’s going on in today’s political arena.
For some of us who do this for a living, it was somewhat ironic that the city of Albany held a well-attended session Wednesday to inform employees, elected officials and appointed committee members their requirements under newer and more stringent state Open Meetings and Open Records laws.
Albany City Manager James Taylor is in the middle of one of those damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't scenarios that tend to break lesser men.
A few random thoughts while waiting for the next Honey Boo Boo installment....
I knew I was in for a treat Labor Day morning when my meeting with a group of six octogenarians featured this great line from ringleader Silas Barnes....
When law enforcement officials talk about crime prevention now, they do so in the vernacular of crime statistics. Thus, they can readily tell you the percentages of increase or decrease in various categories of criminal activities in their jurisdictions.
It was rock and roll poet Paul Simon who noted, “A man hears what he wants to hear, and he disregards the rest.”
Sometimes it's not really what we say, it's the way we say it.
So, this is what we've come to in America. We've got people who would be our leaders, people asking for our money and our votes, who don't have a clue about the basic principles of human anatomy.
Just call us CSI: Albany Herald ... where we don’t just write about crooks, we catch ’em.
There’s a calm surrounding Anthony Parker as we talk. Always an eloquent interview, he seems even more congenial than I remember on this dazzling summer day.
To paraphrase the great writer Stephen King, life is a wheel that is constantly turning. It's that perpetual motion that brings about change.
I don’t believe I was the only one who thought this, but I went to Alpharetta’s Verizon Park Amphitheatre at Encore Park Wednesday to see The Fray, the Denver-based band who’d hit big with their soulful singles “You Found Me” and “How to Save a Life.”
No one likes to have his or her hypocrisy pointed out — we tend to want to revel in it — but given the current — make that latest — mess surrounding the Dougherty County School Board, I thought it worth mentioning the ironic reasoning of a vocal few in this community.
Driving west on Philema Road Friday, the 15 — yes, I counted — stark blue signs with white letters demand my attention.
The primaries are over. Now it’s time to get down to the really important issue that has Southwest Georgians buzzing.
With rare exceptions, I don’t really think people who run for political office start out with a strategy of “say anything or do anything to get elected.”
In the overall scheme of things, the local-option sales tax money being argued over by Lee County, Leesburg and Smithville officials seems such a small thing.
While talking with local political candidates during this campaign season, one thing in particular has hit me: Why in the hell would anyone want to put themselves through this process?
None of us among this country's unwashed truly understands the complexities of government, its layered structure and intentionally confusing language cleverly designed to keep "outsiders" like us in the dark.
When I first heard that Leesburg native son and country music star Luke Bryan felt the need to apologize for writing some of the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner" on his hand and for looking at his watch while singing the national anthem at Major League Baseball's All-Star Game Tuesday night, I really thought it was a joke.
It was about the time I made the loop off Interstate 85 onto 75 North just outside Atlanta’s downtown — when you round the big bend in the interstate and come face-on with the capital city’s skyline — that I was overwhelmed with a sense of nostalgia that almost took my breath away.
Let’s go ahead and get this out of the way early: The young people who will be referred to in this column are not black children, white children, Hispanic children, poor children, children from the west side of town, children of single parents ...
One of the things I've noticed in responses to certain articles I've written lately about local taxes -- especially ones concerning the divvying up of local-option sales tax (LOST, an ominous acronym if ever there was one) collections in Lee County -- is a general misunderstanding of the various tax collections.
The beginning of an intriguing battle is brewing in Georgia as the International Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan’s (the IKKKKK?) application to take part in the Adopt-A-Highway program in north Georgia’s Union County is being challenged by the state.
On a fairly regular basis, I hear people from this area bemoan their contention that Albany, and indeed, all of Southwest Georgia, needs "fixing." (Fixin' in the local vernacular.) Usually the complainers have all the answers needed to accommodate such a fix.
I got a traffic ticket this week, the first in a long time and the first ever from an Albany Police Department officer. Yeah, bummer.
In case there are others in the area who, like me, try to squeeze in a few more winks of sleep while driving to work and thus are not exactly the most attentive folks in the world, all those new signs that are taking up space on lawns throughout the region are not an indication that local housing is in its own about-to-bust bubble.
For the nation's military leaders, its politicians looking to get their sound bites to the media, and the spin doctors who are paid to make chicken salad from that proverbial ... well, you know the product ... war is a numbers game.
Death, the philosophers tell us, is a part of life, the end of a journey spent preparing for what comes next.
Orlando Rambo and his fellow principles in Destiny Transportation Group have been accused of “looking out for their own best interest” in their attempts to halt the city of Albany’s plans to build a $10 million multimodal transportation facility.
Sam Spivey's 87 now and he's slowed down a step or two. But his mind remains as sharp as ever as he recalls the events that led to his enlistment in the U.S. Army at age 15.
When I was in high school, I remember one night a group of four or five guys on the football team bragging about water-balloon-bombing the car of this kid they indelicately called “the fag.”
Video didn’t, as the Buggles claimed in the first clip that appeared on MTV, kill the radio star. But the Internet has all but succeeded where video came up short.
While it’s pretty much true what they say about old dogs and new tricks, that doesn’t stop people from trying to pass along knowledge.
For those of you who’ve jumped on the “shocked and offended” bandwagon after reading William Wright’s comments during a MADCAP (Wow ... some things are just too easy) public gathering, a parable
Real-life rumors (Oh, glorious Facebook!) I heard last week as Phillip Phillips hysteria swept Southwest Georgia: n Dave Matthews had contacted Phillips and told him he’d bring the budding singer on his current tour if Phillips would leave “American Idol.”
There’s an old Mad magazine parody that always comes to mind when I read press releases from individuals or groups looking for publicity to mark their “charitable donations”
Mary Wheeler will get no flowers today for Mothers Day. It’s unlikely she’ll get a phone call.
If you’ve got grandparents or are friends with anyone past the age of 50, you’ve no doubt heard statements that begin with the phrase, “I remember back in the day ...”
Forget urban renewal; sometimes we just need a little faith renewal.
Oh, my, the cat’s out of the bag. I’ve been outed, and I don’t quite know yet what I will do about it. Just when you think you’ve got people hoodwinked ...
While the term “entitlement culture” has become for many in places like Albany — sadly — a euphemism for the poor in the mostly African-American community
That old corollary about how different people see and remember the same thing differently came into play over the weekend as I was discussing the incredible Wanee Festival with one of the other 40,000 or so attendees.
Dear Mr. Fantasy, play us a tune, Something to make us all happy. Do anything, take us out of this gloom. Sing a song, play guitar, make it snappy. — Traffic
He who forgets will be destined to remember. — Pearl Jam This evening marks the beginning of the one-day observance of Yom HaShoah, the Hebrew term for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
There’s three sides to every story, baby: There’s yours and there’s mine and the cold, hard truth. — Don Henley
Seeing as Albany diners-outers are currently (a) standing in long lines waiting to get into the new Buffalo Wild Wings or (b) starving themselves in anticipation of Olive Garden opening near the mall, I went to one of the Good Life City’s most
I spent a few hours Wednesday morning being schooled on "old Dougherty County," a land of plantations and historic families who've passed on their way of life over several generations.
There’s a TV commercial I see every now and then, and it always surpsises me and pleases me when it comes on. I don’t remember who sponsored the ad, but I do know it has Ben Harper’s “Amen Omen” playing in the background (one of my Top 20 songs ever).
You built a house of cards, And got shocked when you saw them fall. — The White Stripes Albany, once the proud crown jewel of Georgia’s southern region, has an identity crisis.
My earliest musical memory is seeing country stars Loretta Lynn and Sonny James perform at the old Annie Bell Clark Elementary School auditorium in Tifton. I was 4 at the time.
As I took in the view around me just before noon last Sunday -- the clear air, blooming pear trees, green grass sprouting up to overtake its gray-brown predecessors -- I was momentarily overwhelmed by the absolute splendor of nature.
I like Claire Fox Hillard. I really do. I've had opportunities to interview the man who'd served as conductor of the Albany Symphony Orchestra for 24 years before being unceremoniously fired in December, only to be reinstated last week, and I've had several casual chats with him. There's no more affable guy around.
Tom Gieryic hasn't gotten a lot of work done at his automotive repair shop lately.
I'd like to start by clearing up a misconception. I am not being insulting or ironic when I say I enjoy the zany tidbits and comments of the many squawkers and regular online responders to articles in this newspaper.
Fourteen-year-old Jesse Romero was clearing limbs that had blown down during the previous day's storm off his family's land in rural eastern Lee County Sunday when the lone bicyclist came riding up.
I’ll always remember Davy Jones fondly. I have his music to remind me of the impact he had on me during my formative years, and I easily recall flying high on the swingset with the rest of the Irwin County Monkees. Yep, we were just kids being kids. But we created a sweet memory that will live on in my heart for as long as it continues to beat.
The time of reckoning is almost at hand on the Lee County garbage fee issue, and many are wondering if Lee County commissioners have not inadvertantly painted themselves into a corner from which there is no easy escape, at least none that won't mess up the paint job.
The words of Lewis Lamb, the chief assistant district attorney from the Southwest Judicial Circuit, were ominous.
This is not -- repeat, not -- an attempt to convince anyone that abortion is right or wrong.
Some seem to have trouble realizing that wrongs utilized to empower certain individuals or groups are still wrong, no matter how much we might personally enjoy their ill-gotten fruits. Twenty-first-century Americans, for the most part, seem to have forgotten the ideals that made their country great. That sacrifice for the greater good thing? Pshaw, not for them. And until we come to the realization that freedom does not give us the right to infringe upon someone else’s freedom, we’ll continue to flounder as a nation.
I have the day marked in my memory: It was Dec. 17, 2011. That was the day I stopped at a gas-'n-sip in east Alabama and paid $1.99 a gallon for regular unleaded gasoline. I don't expect to pay less than $2 again in my lifetime, so I've mentally preserved the moment.
How many communities Albany’s size can make this claim? We have a MillerCoors brewery, a Procter & Gamble plant, M&M Mars and Coats & Clark manufacturing facilities, one of the nation’s premiere logistics defense bases, a nationally recognized hospital system, Equinox, one of the most lauded small businesses in the nation, and Thrush, an airplane maker that is one of two of its kind in the world.
As each of us goes about our daily business, we tend to see things along the way that strike us as somehow unusual or out of the ordinary. These can be good things or bad, but they kind of stick in a place that puts them on memory rewind and keeps them coming back to us, often at inopportune times.
President Obama was hailed by environmentalists last month when he rejected Canadian company TransCanada’s plan to build a 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry oil extracted from tar sands in Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast to be refined. And while the move may indeed have helped head off a potential environmental disaster that some experts say could have left parts of the nation’s breadbasket without drinking water, Obama doesn’t deserve the accolades. Essentially, the president was forced into taking one tough election-year choice over the other, and he took the path of least resistance.
A door opens to the Oval Office at the White House in early February of 2013. President Romney is talking with members of his inner circle.
Lee Formwalt is a man of varied and large talents. He gained renown as a college professor, an activist, an author and as director of the local Albany Civil Rights Institute. Under his guidance, the museum’s attendance and relevance soared.
I ran into Brent Fowler, the excellent young assistant principal at Albany's Lincoln Magnet School, this weekend. After we exchanged greetings, he looked at me expectantly, and I did the same. He was waiting for the inevitable question, and I guess I was expecting a response. Finally I settled the issue: "I'm proud of you," I said.
She hates that she cries, calls herself a "sissy" as she brushes away the tears, but the anguish that has taken up permanent residence in Dolores Presley's soul surfaces anew as she shares the last note her son wrote to her.
Justice has a price in Lee County. And the going rate right now is $181.
Mention that you’re scheduled for a colonoscopy, and you get one of two reactions: An involuntary wince accompanied by that “fwooo” sound that comes with a sudden intake of breath, or a look of sheer horror at the thought of the procedure.
In an old Mad magazine parody, two neighbors are standing at a fence between their properties talking about the beauty of their shared religious beliefs.
It would be a shame to see Turner Job Corps’ good works sullied by those who would use the sacred voting rights of individuals as a means of furthering their own selfish personal agendas.
Further proof that our take on things is all about perspective, skewed though it sometimes may be: I was talking with a guy I know over the holidays about the end of 2011 and the challenges we face as a community, as a state, as a nation, even as a race of people, in 2012.
If we still had town criers, or better yet, if Paul Revere — the colonial American patriot, not the organ player for Paul Revere and the Raiders — were still doing his thing, I can just imagine him spreading the glorious news in Albany: “The Olive Garden’s coming! The Olive Garden’s coming!”
It’s time to talk about what was really important in 2011: the pop culture moments that made the year unique.
The CRCT scandal has a face for me now. When I listen to some bureaucrat use mumbo-jumbo to try and explain away the action of people who should have known better, I’ll think of this mother and her son, innocents who are left to pay a steep price for others’ betrayal. And I’ll also think, sadly, about the words of a friend who teaches in the school system: They’re only beginning to scratch the surface.
Georgia lawmaker -- state Rep. Allen Peake, a Macon Republican -- plans to push legislation during the 2012 General Assembly that would allow counties to hold nonpartisan elections. No more "R," "D," "I" or any other such designation required.
Carlton Fletcher writes about some of his all-time favorite songs.
There’s been more eating among NFL executives and media “experts” — you know, those people who shout at you on ESPN — lately than you’d see at a Thanksgiving dinner for the cast of “Mike and Molly.”
Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard was addressing area leaders during a recent Dougherty Area Regional Transportation Study Policy Committee meeting in Leesburg, and he encouraged them to point to the future — much as those past leaders had — in pushing a referendum that would allocate a 1 percent transportation tax in the region.
Sylvia Berry and Jane Willson, two of the most passionate supporters of the arts in Albany, used the same word as they discussed the surprise firing of Albany Symphony Orchestra conductor Claire Fox Hillard Monday.
Remember how when we were 16, 17, 18 we thought 30 was old, how we bought into that bromidic “Never trust anyone over 30” slogan hook, line and sinker?
“I’m always amazed when liberal Democrats like yourself attempt to take potshots at the Republican party when you are intellectually incapable of doing so. What makes you think anyone cares what you think? And how can you attack the one group in this country that’s trying to turn around the mess created by Democrats like yourself?” A couple of things first: 1) I am neither a card-carrying liberal nor a Democrat. I find nothing in any current political party that would make me want my name attached to it. 2) I honestly don’t think a whole lot of people care what I think about any issue, political or otherwise. I’m a guy doing a job. And 3), since you asked ...
My malaise leans more toward “Back in Black” fever, as I try to figure out just when it was this country did away with Thanksgiving and instead ushered in Black Friday as its newest — and most celebrated — holiday. It may have been the result of my “Black-out,” but I’m pretty sure I heard someone say New York officials had ushered in the new holiday by renaming one of its oldest traditions the Macy’s Black Friday Parade.
Not knowing enough of Johnnie Johnson’s history beyond his worker/civil rights efforts to weigh in on the merits of such an honor, I would caution Albany leaders to do their homework before sticking anyone’s name on some local edifice or landmark.
There are those who will tell you one average person acting alone cannot have much of an impact on the world outside his or her direct sphere of influence. I’m here to tell those people they’re wrong.
I was having a conversation recently with my 9-year-old, and while I’d call her a little more worldly wise than most 9-year-olds — or maybe just compared to my own lack of wisdom when I was that age — I was struck by some of her comments and questions.
The results are in now — using the appropriate political cliche, “the people have spoken” — and the winners/losers of Tuesday’s elections are alternately celebrating/preparing to take office or licking their wounds/wondering what they might have done differently.
SYLVESTER — Anthony Johnson calls his music “Christian, Americana, inspirational-type stuff.” An apt enough description.
Here are a few quick thoughts as we jump headlong into the holiday season....
By all means, the city/county should return Cheryl Calhoun’s qualifying fees. And they should include with the refund as big an apology as is humanly possible. But returning that $450 is not going to make up for the time and money Calhoun spent on the campaign trail. She deserves compensation in that respect, as well.
Before DirectTV changed its lineup recently for about the 74th time in the three years I’ve been getting the satellite TV service — which is code for they’re about to charge you more for the premium channels you’re watching — the 1993 semi-cult classic “Dazed and Confused” came on late one night. I had to watch.
So, Mr. Ralston, by all means discuss the possible consolidation of some of Georgia’s colleges. But consider in your discussions the impact such action would have. Then you can move on to finding more viable and realistic cost-cutting measures.
“George Harrison,” he said, simply. “When you play that well with the best, you’re one of the best.”
So, please, let’s agree to stop with the sob stories for the rich and the super rich. The anger over such ludicrous spin is what has people protesting wealth distribution on Wall Street and other parts of the country right now. And if you’re not one of the rich or super rich but you buy into the spin, well, please, by all means, work hard to get someone elected who will take more of your money and give it to his rich friends.
The state of Georgia is currently one of four states in the union that prohibits or restricts firearms in churches, synagogues and mosques. If the by-God, right-thinking folks in GeorgiaCarry.org have their way, though, gun-owners in the state won’t have to suffer the embarrassment of being bunched in with those wimps from Mississippi, Arkansas and North Dakota much longer.
Sadly, the people of this community have become desensitized to the rampant crime that, despite trumpeted statistics that suggest otherwise, is not declining.
The first unofficial SCNI U.S. Presidential Top 20 might look something like this (numbers indicate chances of winning party nomination and general election.)
The forever-in-my-mind boyish Glen Campbell, creator of such hits as “Wichita Lineman,” “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” — both great, great songs that get better with age — and “Galveston,” is 75 now. And he’s been diagnosed with early-stages Alzheimer’s.
Certainly economics and race will remain major factors with any issue that impacts this region, and Lee and Dougherty counties’ shared history will also be a part of the equation. But to try and turn the clock back to a period of racial animosity because of a failure — or refusal — to consider broader implications is a step back that will benefit no one.
I am, as I’ve always been without reservation, in favor of capital punishment. I suppose being raised on that biblical “eye-for-an-eye” admonition stuck with me, but I have no sympathy for “reformed” murderers who ask for mercy after all their legal challenges have run out and their date with the executioner nears.
There’s this gnawing feeling that it’s just not going to be enough to traverse the 350 or so miles up to north Alabama to see the grandkids every month or so. And it’s not going to be enough to check out the latest photos online ... when he can figure out how to access them. No, Poppy’s going to have to ramp up his game as he prepares to meet the newest member of his son’s family and renew acquaintances with grandkid No. 1. The standard’s been set; it was set by Bobby quite a few years ago.
Complaining about the status quo, especially about those in charge of the status quo, is as old as time itself.
The man who once amazed scores of adoring fans with his athletic abilities hasn’t had time to feel sorry for himself as he’s adjusted to life without his left foot.
There are music lovers — like my buddy Levine — who think musicians ceased to exist at the end of a particular era, that no more music, at least any worth hearing, was made after their favorites called it a career.
Here’s why I’ll take Baconton’s Annette Morman over your mayor and just about anyone else’s: When she says she’s going to do something, you can pretty much take it to the bank.
The individuals who have come to rely on others for their needs start to lose their self-worth and, indeed, their very humanity. Once that happens, they buy into the concept that there is no reason for them to earn their own way, that they don't have to go out and make a living by the sweat of their brow.
I heard from an old acquaintance the other day, a guy who likes to call me up every now and then to give me grief about something I've written or to complain about some bee that's flying around in his not-insignificant bonnet.
I hate to go all “those were the good old days” on you, but I remember when shopping for school supplies was a relatively simple task. I didn’t have enough space to list all the materials kids need nowadays.
I listened as my wife played back the message, and afterward I could only shake my head and laugh.
The word "activist," by definition, implies that a person so labeled is actually doing something.- Carlton Fletcher, metro editor
Anyone who's ever worked at a newspaper before has heard this tired refrain: "Y'all never print anything but bad news in your paper. We'd like to read a little good news every now and then." Really?
As they talked to members of the Lee County CERT dive team, thanking them for their help earlier this year in the search for their son James in the icy waters of a Valdosta lake, John and Tammy Eunice were the picture of composure.- Carlton Fletcher, metro editor
While I certainly have my own take on the Lee County garbage brouhaha, since I cover the county's government it would not be appropriate for me to suggest that either the county is right to create an ordinance that puts garbage fees on citizens' tax bills or that Tax Commissioner Susan Smith is right to refuse to comply with the ordinance.
Back when NBC was still considered a viable television network, it called its "Seinfeld"-led Thursday-night primetime lineup "Must-See TV."
Well, here's how you can solve the "immigration issue" in America and show your significant other how much you really care.You can help build a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border.
The elderly gentleman in the unusual red, white and blue outfit and neatly trimmed white beard looked out of place walking down the aisles at Kmart. He had a couple of items in his shopping cart, but I noticed him checking out price stickers on every shelf he came to, often shaking his head sadly before moving on.
There's a scene in the classic Ice Cube/Chris Tucker -- and, yes, my standards for "classic" are probably a little less stringent than some -- movie "Friday" in which John Witherspoon, who plays the patriarch of the Jones family, tells his son Craig, "There was a time when we didn't need guns to settle our differences; we used these (indicating his fists)."
Now that the Aug. 15 date set by state officials for a special called reapportionment session at the Capitol is less than a month away, the idea of redrawing Georgia's House and Senate districts is becoming -- even for casual political observers -- more than just something politicians talk about in an effort to either (a) scare or (b) impress their constituents.
The "American Dream," that pie-in-the-sky concept of fame and fortune waiting around the corner for those willing to work for it, has been co-opted. Somehow whole generations of Americans are now being taught the American Dream is owed them ... the American Pipe-Dream.- Carlton Fletcher, metro editor
I won't try to speak for Dennis Roland, Betty Johnson, Bill Williams, Rick Muggridge or Ed Duffy -- current members of the Lee County Commission -- but I'd be willing to bet they -- and members of most other elected governmental bodies in the region -- wouldn't mind an opportunity to react in kind to some of their critics.- Carlton Fletcher, metro editor
I have this memory of Dontonio Wingfield that comes to mind every time his name is mentioned. It was the finals of the AAA state basketball playoffs during Don's junior year, and this gifted athlete had done so many amazing things on the hardwood for Westover High School people around here had come to take for granted the things he did that no one else could do.- Carlton Fletcher, metro editor