Happy birthday, Columbia County.
Though pretty much no one notices such things, Friday was Columbia County's birthday. The county was carved off from Richmond County 214 years ago, on Dec. 10, 1790.
At the time, the two communities were arguing about the location of a new courthouse. William Few wanted a new courthouse built in the center of what was then a much larger county, closer to where more of the area's growth was taking place. Politicians from larger Augusta wanted to keep the government center downtown.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
The issue was resolved when the Legislature directed map-makers to draw a straight line from what is now west Augusta to just south of Harlem, lopping off Columbia County at a 45-degree angle to the lines of latitude and longitude. Columbia County built its own courthouse in what would become Appling.
In the years since, Columbia County has argued with Augusta about many other things, including where Few's body would be buried (Augusta got him) about whether Augusta ownership of a piece of land in Columbia County qualified the city to have a lawmaker sit on Columbia County's delegation and about the makeup of the Chamber of Commerce.
Some people seem to believe that the two political entities are still fighting. In an indirect way, they're right.
For example, the communities are still quibbling about whether to keep an economic development partnership. The county's alliance with Metro Augusta Clean and Beautiful vaporized when the agency's director quit amid financial questions. Columbia County's Chamber, ready to celebrate next week when it ends its membership campaign, continues to draw away from its struggling downtown counterpart. And now county officials are working on a plan to pull out of the Augusta Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau.
When the Legislature drew that county line 214 years ago, they didn't build a wall along it. These changes won't build a wall now. But what they will do is reinforce the impression that Columbia County is filling up in part because Augusta is being drained.
Happy birthday, Columbia County. If this keeps up, we'll need a bigger cake, and Augusta may have to beg for crumbs.
Merry ... whatever
The folks at the governor's press office could use a little less politi-cal correctness.
A couple of weeks ago, the PR staff announced Gov. Sonny Perdue and first lady Mary Perdue would soon be lighting the "holiday tree" in the governor's mansion. Just 14 minutes later, a new e-mail notice announced the lighting of the mansion's "Christmas tree."
Thursday, a new notice arrived: "Governor and first lady to light holiday tree at the Capitol."
"I don't make the rules," huffed a press-office staffer when quizzed about the PC terminology. And she didn't respond to my question about what other observances are celebrated with a tree, since apparently there are so many that we have to avoid confusion about what we're celebrating by lumping them together generically as "holidays." But she did tell me merry Christmas.
Now, if you'll excuse me, 'tis the season to celebrate Hanukkah by lighting the "holiday candelabra."
Thanks to teachers
Many thanks to Barbara Guillebeau and Carol Shrout who invited me to speak to their classes at Greenbrier High School. And my condolences to the five students fortunate enough to have both teachers but unlucky enough to hear me twice.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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