The race for Columbia County sheriff certainly kicked up another notch last week with Lewis Blanchards big-splash announcement. Anyone apt to write Blanchard off - and many of Sheriff Clay Whittles supporters are - should have ridden through the overflow Savannah Rapids parking lot and noted that the vast majority of the cars had Columbia County tags.
The significance? Blanchard may run a business in Richmond County, but hes pulling in supporters in the county where he needs their vote.
Blanchard is getting lots of campaign assistance from current and former school system employees. He was the countys first public safety officer, and many administrators and teachers have picked up extra cash working for Blanchards hospitality business during Masters Week.
Those employees presence in Blanchards campaign wont likely improve the relationship between Whittles staff and the school system.
Meanwhile, the next campaign to kick off is the re-election bid of County Commissioner Tom Mercer. He plans to make his formal announcement at 10 a.m. Thursday in front of the Justice Center in Evans.
His campaign is being spearheaded by Bobby Waters, who last helped George James in his run to fill Mark Devotis unexpired term on the Commission. James lost, but might give it another shot when winner Lee Anderson faces re-election this fall.
If James does run, it wont be with Waters help. Not because of any friction, mind you; its just that working for one campaign at a time is enough, and Waters is pledged to help Mercer.
R, not D
Both Blanchard and Mercer are running as Republicans, in a county in which every partisan elected official is a Republican.
Even so, a couple of days before Blanchard made his announcement, the Columbia County Democratic Party sent out a notice for its Feb. 2 meeting touting as speaker Mr. Lewis Blanchard, Democratic candidate for Columbia County sheriff.
Blanchards not alone in being mislabeled. The State of Georgia Official Directory produced by Secretary of State Cathy Coxs office also lists Columbia County Commission Chairman Ron Cross with a D after his name, in both the print and online versions.
Its good to know we in the newspaper business arent the only people who make mistakes in print!
Wouldnt you know it: The day my column comes out extolling the virtues of a Web site that includes an archive of historic Georgia photos, the state announces yet another information-filled site.
The site - http://www.georgiaencyclopedia. org - is the New Georgia Encyclo-pedia. Its entirely free, and overflows with facts about the Peach State.
Theres a good overview of Columbia County history on the site, though it lists as one of its references the somewhat flawed book, To Seek a Newer World, hurriedly published a couple of years ago by the countys historical society.
On the site, the only time Grovetown and Harlem are mentioned are in the countys overall listing. Neither appear in a list of cities.
To add injury to the insult, Oliver Hardy - whose birth in Harlem is celebrated with a major festival each year - is mentioned just once on the site: In a reference to Milledgeville, a city where Hardy lived for three years with his mother.
Fortunately for Harlem Mayor Scott Dean, and Grovetown Mayor Dennis Trudeau, the site includes a mechanism for adding information. Perhaps the two mayors should offer a few suggestions to the University of Georgia Library, which oversees the site.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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