Folks in the media thrive on unsolicited information. Just lately such tips have been especially important in revealing stories that the public may not have read about if callers hadnt provided timely help.
So to our tipsters, thanks - and keep it coming; my phone number and e-mail address are below.
How has it helped lately? Take the call from a man who identified himself only as a contractor who said simply, Wayne Bridges works for Edgefield. You should ask him. I did, and thats when Columbia County School Board Chair-man Bridges admitted doing consulting work for Edgefield Construction Inc., which had just won a near million-dollar bid for a Columbia County school project.
None of that is illegal, but it doesnt pass the old
smell test when Bridges argues in favor of granting a contract to a company that he works for, and then votes to pay the company for that work, and only later fesses up to the relationship. Bridges should have stayed out of the discussion and abstained from the vote, as he now admits.
Wayne is a good guy, and I hate beating up on him. Its a lot more fun beating up on unfriendly people. But we cant be honest in this business if we only beat up on enemies and ignore the failures of friends.
Another tip revealed what seems to be a series of violent sexual attacks by a student at Greenbrier High School. The tipster in this case was a student who worried that the school was trying to cover it up.
We hear coverup allegations all the time; usually the person means they havent been told what they wanted to hear. But this time theres some truth to the charge.
The student in this case, Thryshaun McCladdie, has been in trouble before. The way the school handled this case makes it appear that the administration didnt want an ugly episode to play itself out in the community.
Ignoring problems wont make them go away - and denying them only encourages tipsters. In this case, a school still struggling with the deaths of two students now faces the possibility that a violent criminal was being coddled for the sake of the schools image.
The first two tips were from callers, but the third came by mail. A Thomson resident sent a copy of the elusive special investigation an accounting firm performed after a scandal in-volving McDuffie County Administrator Lamar Hamill and two county employees.
The report is pretty damning, including this sentence: Three D (a construction company) was essentially handed the open checkbook of McDuffie County because the county did not require substantiation of invoices and payments to Three D.
The only surprise after reading this report is that Hamill is still on the job while the county seeks his replacement - and that the district attorneys office hasnt been consulted for criminal investigation.
Sweeping stuff under the rug doesnt work. Just ask Greenbrier.
Wake up and smell...:
A story the other day pointed out that Starbucks isnt going to build a coffee shop in Augusta.
Those who want the premium brand of coffee may be dismayed. But it also means Serendipity, a new restaurant in Evans, has cornered the market. Serendipity opened last month, and serves Starbucks coffee in a two-story caf next door to the Marshall Family Y.
Who needs the giant chain around here anyway? Co-lumbia County already gets incredible service for its serious caffeine addicts, thanks to independent businesses, including Abbis Coffee Mill and the Bagel Factory - not to mention the good, old regular cups of coffee from Evans Diner, Ruths Restaur-ant and Athens Restaurant.
And now with Serendip-ity, we can have coffee from Starbucks without the pretentious attitude.
Its all enough to keep you awake.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 863-6165, extension 106.)
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