Ready to drive to Augusta or Thomson to renew your driver's license?
That may be coming if the driver's license bureau in the county government complex closes down, a distinct possibility as talks over moving the state office fall apart.
Columbia County officials want to move the bureau, which sits in the back corner of one of the buildings of the sprawling, ever-growing government complex in Evans. The bureau's customers take up too many parking spaces, they say, and too many people park their fannies in the hallway the bureau shares with the Board of Elections and other county offices.
Vacant space next to the Omni Health and Fitness around the corner on Evans-to-Locks Road is comparable in size, and the county would pay to move the office (and pay the rent). But the bureau folks say it's not big enough, and lacks the waiting area that the county building's hallway provides. They'll shut down rather than move.
The discussion is at an impasse. If neither side blinks, by the end of March you'll have to drive out to Mike Padgett Highway in south Augusta or hit Interstate 20 for a trip to Washington Highway in Thomson to get a new license or renew an old one.
Buckle up; the Thomson driver's license bureau is 20 miles away.
Honors for troops
Congratulations to the 256th Engineer Group of the Georgia National Guard.
The First Marine Expeditionary Force is being awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for gallantry. Because the 256th was attached to the "I MEF" at the beginning of the war in Iraq, the Guard unit will share the prestigious recognition.
What's it mean to Columbia County? Capt. Bobby Christine, the county's assistant district attorney, has for the past year been serving in Iraq as a member of the 256th and will share in the honor.
The big prize for Christine, however, would be to come home soon, for good. His two-week visit during Christmas was entirely too short, and he's just passed the one-year mark serving in the desert.
The good news? He missed the recent ice storm - and fortunately for his wife Sheri and their three kids, the lights in their Evans home only flickered while many other locals were in the dark. Still, they lost their computer connection for a while, and weren't able to communicate with Bobby. All that's since been fixed, along with everyone else's electricity and cable TV connections.
Help for Chamber helper
Though it seems in these fast-moving days like you'd have to be an old-timer to remember her, it wasn't so long ago that Stephanie Rountree was the Energizer Bunny running the day-to-day business of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce and the county's Development Authority. Her pace slowed considerably when she got married a few years back to Kevin Hackett, and Stephanie has since been a stay-at-home mom to two children and a stepson.
Now 33, Stephanie should be enjoying her time at home, playing with her kids and staying out of the fast pace of business, politics and economic development. In-stead, she's battling health problems from colon cancer and subsequent surgery to remove the damage.
The family needs help. They've printed flyers seeking assistance, and a fund is being set up at Regions Bank for donations for Stephanie, Kevin and the kids.
If there ever were a person who deserves to tap into the goodwill of the business community, it's Stephanie, who tirelessly worked to put an energetic smile on the county's image long before business leaders finally incorporated the Columbia County Chamber.
The least those businesses can do is help in her time of need. I'm sure they will.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.