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While I was away, some cats played

Posted: June 19, 2012 - 11:06pm

In addition to wading through email and voicemail messages, the toughest thing about returning from vacation – well, other than having to leave the beach – is getting caught up on everything that happened while I was away.

Actually, that used to be the toughest thing. Now I keep up via our Web site and our nifty iPad app, and thus can follow such riveting stories as the tale of the man and woman last week caught having sex on the floor of the Evans movie theater.

I go away for a week, and this is the kind of thing that goes on? Yikes.

Meanwhile, a few things deserve comment before they’re too far removed by time.

• First, I was thrilled by the generous response to the June 8 Marshall family fundraiser. People flocked to the amphitheater in Evans to enjoy grilled hamburgers and hotdogs and help defray the growing expenses of Debbie Marshall’s family.

Marshall, the county’s elections director, is in a tough fight with a brain tumor, and her hospitalization since April 6 is hard on her family. She’s a beloved figure in Columbia County, and it showed as people opened their wallets for more than $16,000 in donations.

There’s also an account set up for the Marshall family at any Georgia Bank and Trust location, for those who would like to help but missed the cookout.

• Area residents also were quite generous in their contributions for several other recent charity events, but one struck me particularly because of an attempt at casting sour notes at it.

The annual American Red Cross Heroes campaign designates particular people in the community for their service to others, naming them “heroes” for their selfless actions. Yet I’m stunned at the number of people who belly-ached at the charity’s use of the term “heroes,” claiming it should be reserved only for specific uses.

I’m not aware anyone has a monopoly on the language, so those critics should just get over themselves.

Of course, the Red Cross has other problems to overcome, such as the letter circulating that claims a Red Cross breakfast at Fort Gordon didn’t include a prayer or Pledge of Allegiance because the Red Cross “no longer allowed” prayer and “no longer represented the American flag.”

The letter, from a retired chaplain, has been circulating in the area since March, apparently under the radar except for some veterans organizations that have gotten hold of it.

• Finally, last week I received results of an admittedly unscientific poll of the upcoming Transportation Improvement Act, or T-SPLOST, vote.

If it’s any indication, and I believe it is, then this thing is seriously going down in flames.

Nearly 80 percent of the almost 400 people responding to the GaPundit.com poll, most of them conservatives, oppose the July 31 passage of the T-SPLOST referendum. A number that high not only predicts failure of the referendum, but just as importantly means it could hurt politicians too closely associated with it.

That goes all the way to the top, where Gov. Nathan Deal is touring the state to support politicians who agree to campaign for T-SPLOST passage – and, by extension, to work against those who don’t.

But who does he think is going to support him next time around if this thing implodes?

Maybe he’ll get lucky and the voters will just send him on vacation.

• Finally, say goodbye today to Donnie Fetter. He’s been our news editor and Chronicle bureau chief since 2008, and next week will become the managing editor of the Athens Banner-Herald.

He’s done a great job here, and I’m sure will do well at the next level in his career. Please join us in wishing him well.

(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. Email barry.paschal@newstimes online.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)

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