Coming soon to a community near you: "Wednesdays with Whitehead."
State Sen. Jim Whitehead, fresh out of his first session in the Legislature, will spend "hump day" just about every week in the near future visiting a different county of the 24th state Senate district.
"It's open to anybody who wants to come," Whitehead says. His first Wednesday session covered Lincoln County this past Wednesday; this Wednesday is taken up with legislative business in Atlanta, and the following Wednesday Whitehead will be in McDuffie County.
The next week? Whitehead will be at the Columbia County Government Center, on May 4, finding out what elected officials and citizens have on their minds. If it's anything like the Lincoln County reception, Whitehead will be elated. "It was just absolutely fantastic," he says. "We had all kinds of people, coming out of the walls. I had a great time, and really enjoyed it.
Whitehead touts the informal Wednesday forums as a way to get feedback from constituents. "I found so many things I could work on to help them in Atlanta," he said.
It's an interesting contrast, by the way: Not only is Whitehead spending one day each week traveling all over his district visiting each of its seven counties, but during the session he never missed a single vote. Meanwhile, state Sen. Charles Walker, whose 22nd District is compacted into just part of Richmond County, missed 18 important votes during the just-completed session.
While Whitehead voted the way the majority of his constituents would like most of the time -- many of them likely disagree with his vote against the statewide smoking ban -- a couple of the votes Walker did cast may be a surprise to his liberal constituents.
For example, Walker twice voted in favor of tort reform, and voted in favor of waiting periods on women seeking abortions.
By default, Walker also agreed with Whitehead on the smoking ban: He missed both key votes on the issue.
Back in school
In the where-are-they-now category: I ran into Gene Sullivan in Publix the other day. The former Columbia County teacher and principal retired last year as deputy superintendent of Richmond County schools.
Locals were unable to talk Sullivan into running for a spot on the school board in 2004, and since then he's discovered incredible boredom often follows retirement. So now, until the end of the school year, he's back in school as an assistant principal for discipline at Thomson Middle School.
It's the same school where legendary former Evans and Greenbrier coach Terry Holder teaches weightlifting.
Find missing towns
Many thanks to local historian Charles Lord for filling in a few gaps on the now-defunct place names in Columbia County mentioned in my column this past Sunday.
Two of those places, Nebraska and Republican, are now in McDuffie County (which until 1870 was part of Columbia County). Nebraska's name, an Indian derivative, actually predates the state of Nebraska, Lord said. And Republican was named for the form of government, not the political party.
As for the other obscure place names:
Bowery is the former name of Berzelia, the community outside Harlem that is a little obscure itself.
Cerlastae is "just a high-class name" for what now is Pumpkin Center, Lord says.
Leoron was near Grovetown. Its postmaster was Thomas Norville, Oliver Hardy's maternal grandfather.
And I didn't even ask about Howell, Gilbreaths, Cannon Gate, Waterloo or Cullerutths.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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