Some Columbia County folks, especially public officials, were a little disappointed recently when Bill Kuhlke was named to replace Jimmy Lester as the local representative on the Georgia Department of Transportation board.
Not that there's a problem with Kuhlke; heck, everybody likes Bill Kuhlke, and he's expected to do a great job in the post. In fact, this week he already was able to cheer a little extra money coming to Augusta this year for road projects.
The disappointment is for a couple of reasons:
Bill Coleman was first choice of many of the area's elected officials and others who wanted a Columbia County resident on the panel.
Lester has done a great job, and seeing him go is tough for those who appreciate his friendly, helpful nature and history of looking out for his hometown.
But there is one thing that Lester's departure likely assures: River Watch Parkway won't be renamed.
Opened during Lester's tenure, there has been an on-again, off-again move afoot to rename the expressway for former long-time Democratic lawmaker Jack Connell. The move first was spearheaded by Lester, and Connell politely declined.
That hasn't stopped Connell's former colleagues. House Resolution 104 in the state Legislature, while languishing in committee, provides the vehicle by which the road could be renamed Jack Connell Parkway.
Never mind that state Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling, has already pushed through - after years of effort - a law that prevents the state highway (or any other state facility) from being named after anyone living or within five years of leaving office. HR 104 is still in the hopper.
Without Lester pushing from the DOT board, though, the bill isn't likely to pass.
Good. Nothing against Connell, but the philosophy behind Brush's effort is solid: Naming things after people should come only after history sifts through the honoree's accomplishments. If they really are important, their names will survive.
Besides, withholding such an honor until after death is insurance that the person honored won't do something stupid to embarrass everyone. Case in point: James Brown Boulevard.
As a permanent reminder of why sticking to this philosophy is smart, perhaps when Augusta erects its planned bronze statue of "The Godfather of Soul," they ought to model the face after the now-famous accused-wife-beater mug shot.
Logo vote Friday
Of the three proposed new Columbia County logos, the stylized sailboat-on-the-waves logo is still winning a majority of the votes on the newstimesonline. com poll.
A recent caller noted a funny resemblance between that logo and a license plate he'd seen advertising Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville chain. A search on the company's site finds a design with a shark's fin riding above the waves. Add "Columbia County, Georgia" beneath, and voila.
He also notes that another design, featuring a hand-holding family, looks just like the old logo used by the Richmond County Recreation Department. Sincere flattery, I suppose.
Columbia County high-school students are scheduled to vote on the logos Friday. We'll keep our Web poll active until then, and see how the unofficial results match up.
Speaking of matching up: One of the best decisions I ever made was to say "I do" to my Harlem High School sweetheart 20 years ago.
My wife Michelle turns 43 today, and for the next six months I get to tease her about being older than me. If you see her today, be sure to wish her a happy birthday - and tell her she looks awfully good for her age.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to bpaschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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