Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue is headed to Columbia County Saturday, where he'll have breakfast with members of the Republican Party.
To get to Evans from Atlanta, the governor's original plan called for his plane to touch down at Daniel Field, and the motorcade to then carry Perdue to Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
That was before state Sen. Jim Whitehead threw in a little detour.
Whitehead has been working hard the past few months to build a coalition of counties on Columbia County's western flank. The result is what they're calling the Clarks Hill Partnership, made up of Columbia, Lincoln, McDuffie, Wilkes and Warren counties.
In addition to a focus on Clarks Hill Lake, a key piece of the partnership is the Thomson-McDuffie County Airport, designated several years ago as a regional facility. Whitehead wanted the governor to fly there Saturday instead of Augusta, and then drive to Evans.
At first the governor's folks said no. But Whitehead's a big guy, and knows how to twist arms. So after a little gentlemanly persuasion, not only is the governor flying into Thomson, he's also conducting his monthly "Saturdays with Sonny" session there - just a couple of weeks after Whitehead conducted his own "Wednesdays with Whitehead" session at the same site.
Afterward, Whitehead says, Perdue will meet briefly with the Clarks Hill Partnership to hear their plans for cooperative economic development in the area.
I'm betting Sonny is late for breakfast.
Democrats meet, too
If Perdue is still hungry, across the county at lunchtime Columbia County's Democrats are having a cookout at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1579 property up at Clarks Hill Lake (formerly the old C&S Lodge on Ridge Road).
The event opens at 10 a.m., with hamburgers and hotdogs served at noon. The announcement promises "statewide candidates to speak" at 1 p.m.
Speakers thus far who have said they're coming include Agriculture Commissioner Tommy Irvin and a handful of lesser-known candidates for various state offices. Invited but not yet confirmed are Secretary of State Cathy Cox and Lieutenant Gov. Mark Taylor, both of whom are running for Perdue's job.
No matter who shows up, while former Democrat-turned-Republican Perdue isn't likely to visit, you can bet his name will come up often. And in vain.
Catherine Blanchard epitomized Southern grace.
A Columbia County educator for 33 years, she was my principal for seven - first at Appling Elementary and later, after integration, at North Columbia Elementary.
After leaving elementary school, I didn't see her again for nearly 30 years. When I did, I was amazed to discover that she wasn't 6 feet tall; in my childhood memory, Mrs. Blanchard always towered overhead, stern but caring, a patient disciplinarian whose office - which I visited far too often - was a familiar yet frightening place.
But in all those years, one thing that hadn't changed was her kind smile and pleasant nature. She was just so nice that you couldn't help but feel good about being around her.
I'd heard her health had taken a bad turn in recent months. This past Tuesday Mrs. Blanchard passed away, leaving behind a large, extended family of people who know just how wonderful a woman she was.
And one former elementary-school student who'll always look up to her.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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