Now this is just creepy.
Harlem High School, Columbia County's oldest school, and Evans High, the second-oldest, recently played each other in football Aug. 20 for the first time since 1984.
Evans beat Harlem 35-7, just as it had easily beaten Harlem 20 years earlier.
Go back 26 more years for the creepy part.
According to the 1958 Columbia News, the two schools started their football programs that year. Harlem won the first three games of its inaugural season. Evans was 1-1 entering the contest in Harlem, which the newspaper reported drew the largest crowd to ever witness a sporting event in Harlem with 1,400 in the bleachers.
The outcome? Evans handed Harlem its first-ever loss: 35-7.
Back to the future
Even those identical scores, 46 years apart, aren't as weird as the convolutions of Augusta's government as it finalized the city's sales-tax referendum.
The county line sure makes a difference. Columbia County's consultant, Robin Chasman, led a series of meetings, taking requests and suggestions from citizens and public officials. After compiling the list, whittling it down and prioritizing it, commissioners brought it to voters in July. It easily won approval, and complaints about the process have been non-existent.
But good Lord, look across the county line: Augusta commissioners put together a committee that held meetings all around the community, took suggestions from citizens and public officials, whittled down the list of projects and presented it to commissioners.
Augusta officials then ignored the whole thing and cobbled together a bloated list of projects needing four separate votes.
One member of the citizens' panel is furious. "Those mindless jerks have screwed up our Phase V SPLOST proposal so badly that I don't think even the core request has a ghost in hell's chance of passing in November," he fumes.
Meanwhile, a member of Columbia County's growing arts community wonders why we aren't better prepared to pick up the dropped ball. Think about it: Augusta, a city struggling with decline, would get a performing arts center, a sports arena and an amphitheater if voters approve its sales tax renewal. The city's future may be in doubt, but they're building for it anyway.
Yet Columbia County, a booming community with a huge future certainly ahead, scrimps like misers. Even as we speak, the county is building a really nice performing arts center -- with fewer than 400 seats! That's no bigger than the average high-school auditorium.
Columbia County's commissioners have often been people of remarkable vision. The Evans town center, Wildwood Park upgrades and the smoking ban are good examples. Why, then, did they ignore pleas for just a couple hundred more seats in the theater?
Sadly, it's too late to do anything about it now. We'll have to be in the awkward position of hoping Augusta passes its sales tax so we'll have a place big enough for anything more than a kindergarten ballet recital.
County officials haven't squandered citizens' time and patience out here like the mis-leaders in Augusta. But when a football game nearly 50 years ago could draw 1,400 fans, you'd think we could at least build a performing-arts center to hold half that many.
More for Wildwood
The workhorse for all these Columbia County projects has been Robin Chasman. He was back in town Tuesday for the first of two public meetings on the Wildwood Park master plan.
One change Commission Chairman Ron Cross has suggested: Construction of a central lodge where cabins are being built, so the facility can be used as a group retreat.
That's the kind of forward-thinking we could use more of out here.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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