What a way to debut.
The new Raising Cane's chicken-finger restaurant opened its doors to the public Tuesday to a couple of burning questions:
1. How can a restaurant that serves just chicken fingers survive? (Obviously, anyone asking this does not have children.)
2. What happened to all those oak trees nearby?
The first question answers itself. Raising Cane's is a Louisiana-based chain, successful enough with its simple menu formula that it can expand to our community.
Like Kohl's, the chain chose Columbia County as the site of its first store in the entire Augusta area. That ought to inspire confidence in our economy even more than this current business boom alone.
The second question is painful. And if you like trees and have been down Furys Ferry Road lately, you probably know why.
In front of Publix, next to Cane's, is (was) a strip of beautiful oak trees planted by the shopping center's original developer. The trees were pretty big when they were planted, and have (had) just started to reach a comfortably heavy size.
The story goes that someone affiliated with the restaurant was worried about its visibility, and asked to take the trees down. A county employee gave the go-ahead - wrongly, in violation of the county's tree-protection ordinance - and before anyone with sense could object, seven of the nine oaks had been axed.
What took years to grow was reduced to firewood, sawdust and dead stumps in a matter of minutes. If it were legal to do so, the folks responsible ought to be hung up by their toenails from the remaining oaks, which could use the company: They look a little lonely right now.
It may be difficult for new consumers to figure out how a restaurant can survive with a menu of just chicken fingers and a few side dishes. It's even harder to imagine how someone could be so dumb as to cut down those trees.
Start planting now
Speaking of trees, County Commissioner Steve Brown made a really good point the other day.
Regardless of the outcome of the recent discussion about what, and how much, to do with the county's new park at Doctors Hospital field in Evans, planting trees sooner rather than later is a good idea.
Trees grow slowly. The trees we plant now could take 20 years or more to become suitable shade trees.
When Richmond County built its much-admired new Brookfield West park - the one visible from River Watch Parkway - it had the luxury of building it among old pines.
There is no such luxury at the Evans field, which is wide open with a few small trees around it.
I'm not a big fan of the park-consultant's idea of splitting the big park up with a tree-lined plaza, but I do like Brown's suggestion: Decide sooner rather than later where we want trees, and start planting.
Then keep those folks from the Furys Ferry debacle away.
Delayed and denied
Worse than planting trees too late, or cutting them down too soon, is what happened at Harlem High's football game Friday. Some folks ought to go to the woodshed over it.
And to jail.
One of Harlem's students got jumped and savagely beaten by some visiting Butler High students.
School cops and Columbia County deputies caught the Butler students, and then turned them over to their principal pending "further investigation."
It turns out the young thugs couldn't be taken to jail because of their age, and because their parents couldn't be located.
Is anyone surprised that it would be difficult to find the parents of a gang of punks who would beat up a kid at a ball game?
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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