As each election cycle draws its last ragged breath, the citizenry subjected to the near-non-stop campaigning and relentless attacks once again lament that the election was "the nastiest ever." Aren't they all?
When the mind-numbing barrage ends, it's become a tradition for The News-Times to clear the air by highlighting some of the positive accomplishments and events in the community:
Forget the competition for votes; some Columbia County girls are tremendous winners in sports.
First, the Augusta Prep girls cross-country team brought home a state title in Georgia Independent Schools Association competition. The girls won the state meet in Stratford, and the boys were no slouches, either, coming in second in the state.
The Greenbrier High School girls fastpitch softball team is even more amazing. This team has won the region title every year it has existed, and this year blew away the competition at the state tournament in Columbus to win its first-ever state championship.
Think about it: Led by pitching phenomenon Kristan Glover, the girls so dominated Chapel Hill in the final game that officials invoked the "mercy rule" and called it off two innings early when the Lady Wolfpack ran up 12 unanswered runs.
Congratulations to Prep and Greenbrier -- what an inspiration!
Greenbrier High also is offering a more sober inspiration with a safe-driving campaign that comes in the wake of the traffic death of a popular senior.
The school year had barely even started when 17-year-old Lea Turner was killed in a crash while on the way to school. Two of her friends, fellow seniors Taryn Rickerson and Elise Casella, decided to honor her memory by holding a student assembly and spearheading efforts to promote safe driving.
"We're tired of the heartaches of losing a student in an accident," said the school's principal, Dr. Sandra Carraway. "I'm praying this will make a difference.''
Remember: This is the school that a year and a half ago lost two members of its golf team in a car crash, so Greenbrier is well-acquainted with tragedy. This safe-driving effort is a commendable way of fending off future heartache.
The annual It's Spooky to be Hungry food drive is all about fending off hunger, and once again the community has come together to help fill a lot of empty stomachs.
To find out just how many, one of the more exciting countdowns of the year will be held at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Augusta's Golden Harvest Food Bank. At the annual Spooky weigh-in, volunteers get to see just how their efforts paid off as the organization unveils the weight of collected food and tallies up the monetary donations.
It's harder to measure the intangible benefits this incredible event has brought to our community, but Thursday's weigh-in at least puts some figures to the remarkable effort.
Finally, the best head-clearing effort of them all arrives in style Thursday afternoon when the Columbia County Merchants Association annual fall fair opens.
The fair runs through Nov. 13 at the fairgrounds on Columbia Road, featuring the Drew Expositions. The fun has a serious side, too; funds raised by the Merchants Association support scholarships to county students, as well as donations to several local charities.
Besides: Just watch David "The Bullet" Smith being launched from a cannon, and imagine some of those would-be politicians likewise being fired!
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