The general public in Columbia County seems to agree on two things: Our traffic stinks, and too many trees are being cut down.
The appointed members of the county's Planning and Zoning Board apparently disagree. They've never met a traffic-clogging new development they didn't like. And they've decided the county has too many trees.
Thanks to a switched vote by Board member Tony Atkins, a stronger county tree-protection ordinance goes to elected county commissioners Tuesday night with a recommendation for failure.
During their Oct. 5 meeting, member Tom Sprague didn't show up (again), so the tree ordinance passed 3-1 with Brett McGuire - who ought to know better - casting the only 'no' vote.
But then Atkins changed his mind, and a few minutes later asked for a revote. (That's allowed if you're on the winning side of a vote.) He got his wish, voted 'no' and the 2-2 tie - thanks to Sprague's absence - meant the motion to support the new tree ordinance failed.
So, Atkins was for the tree ordinance before he was against it. John Kerry would be proud.
Development watchdog Jeri Whitworth sure isn't. Earlier she had given Atkins - with whom she often disagrees - a thumb's up for supporting the tree ordinance. Whitworth stormed out after his flip-flop, telling Atkins he ought to be removed. And spanked.
Since neither is likely to occur, commissioners can do the next best thing Tuesday by approving the tree ordinance - thereby delivering a spanking to the planning and zoning board on behalf of the citizens.
We were all intrigued this past week at learning that while everyone is pretty sure Columbia County got its name from the famous explorer Christopher Columbus, no one can point to specific evidence of it.
Then, a friend passed along a suggestion that perhaps the county was instead named for the faux Greek goddess Columbia, popular around the time of the nation's founding. Columbia is portrayed in Lady Liberty, for example, and other similar statues.
According to the University of Virginia's Web site, which contains information on such things, Columbia's image for the new nation had originated as an Indian princess, before morphing into a figure perceived as more classical and less "savage."
The site notes that Columbia was "sometimes considered the feminine counterpart to Christopher Columbus," and points out that popularization of her image coincides with the anniversary of Columbus' original 1492 voyage.
The 300th anniversary of that exploration would have been approaching at the time of the 1790 formation of Columbia County. So whether the state lawmakers who named the county were thinking specifically of the explorer or his feminine alter ego when they came up with the name, it seems pretty clear the name came from Christopher Columbus.
But we still don't have proof. Now, can someone tell me where my hometown of Winfield got its name?
Moms, check it first
Wade Padgett this week will again present his Teenage Years 101 seminar, with a session for adults Monday and for teens Wednesday at Augusta Prep's Performing Arts Center.
Before the recent session for teens - advertised, literally, as ages 13-19 - I was asked by a mom if the content would be appropriate for those under 13. My assessment: I think it could be OK, but I'd hate for a mom to send an 11-year-old and find out the session was a little too raw for her.
The best option: Go to the Monday session for parents, and either relay the information to your own children or send them to see the judge on Wednesday.
Either way, as Wade says, it's better to see him in a suit in the auditorium than in his robes in the courtroom.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to email@example.com, or call 706-863-6165, extension 106.
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