Like most people, I probably did more than my share of complaining in 2003. So its only fair to list a few things in the waning year that I enjoyed:
Boiled peanuts from Raymond Bozo Owens, whose trailer is often parked in the lot of the Omni at Evans-to-Locks and Belair Roads. One generous-sized cup is $3, or two for $5.
And if you hang around a while, Owens might tell you some of the stories about his escapades as prize-figher Battlin Bozo Owens in Augusta after World War II.
The groundbreaking for the new Columbia County library. Jeff Hardin and the countys library board, and all the county library staff, couldnt be any happier than I am that the foundations are literally now being laid for the big new facility.
The Justice Center dominates the Evans landscape, but this new library will contain the communitys heart. It will hold much of its history, too, in a room devoted to Columbia Countys past. (The county wasnt always a soccer-mom suburb: Did you know that, in 1954, there were more than 100 cotton farms here?)
Getting to know Carolyn Moore, pastor of the new Mosaic United Methodist Church. I didnt know Carolyn back when she attended my church, and then she went away to Athens for a couple of years. Now that shes back, starting up a new church in Evans, watching her progress has been a joy.
Theres just no substitute for sunny, positive people - especially in my business, where unhappy grumps seem to fall out of trees.
Speaking of positive people, 2003 was a great year in part because of the hard work of Beth Roberson. The special events coordinator for the countys Rec Department did a great nuts-and-bolts job with all sorts of community events this year, including the Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations, the New Horizons Art Show, the countys art festival, the big barbecue cook-off and the Christmas tree lighting.
Every one of these events, and many others, benefited from Robersons can-do attitude - and Columbia County benefited as a result.
The News-Times new offices. We really found out how big weve grown when our staff held our annual Christmas pot-luck luncheon and overflowed our conference room. Having our advertising reps in the same building has been great, and being closer and more accessible to our customers and readers has been even better.
Speaking of new offices, The McDuffie Mirror launched in 2003, with some former staffers of The News-Times. Weve been like proud parents, watching this upstart kid growing in our neighbor community.
Corresponding with, and welcoming home, Assistant District Attorney Bobby Christine. Capt. Christine is back in Iraq now, having flown out of Atlanta Christmas morning to end his leave from National Guard duty.
Its impossible to get to know every soldier serving our country in the war on terrorism, but keeping up with Bobby and his family has helped me to put a face on service and sacrifice.
The new turning lane on Washington Road. It was great to see the marquee in front of Tudors Cleaners in Evans change from A turning lane is the solution (in opposition to the DOT plan to divide the highway with concrete strips) to Thanks Columbia Co, Ga DOT after the widened, restriped road opened.
No, not really. I hated it. I learned at least one thing, though: Real estate agents earn their commissions.
Last, but not least, meeting Kaitlyn Dunaway was a personal highlight of 2003. This 9-year-old young lady from Evans pops into our office every now and then to bring samples of things shes written, and shes just a gem - Im officially naming her The News-Times junior correspondent. (It helps that on her last visit she brought a plate of brownies.)
Heres hoping for a prosperous, peaceful 2004.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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