Though it probably makes me sound incredibly self-centered, I couldn't help but cringe after seeing the press release sent by John Stone, Charlie Norwood's spokesman:
I could have been the one who had to write that.
Three years ago, when Stone left to help get newly elected U.S. Rep. Max Burns' congressional office off the ground, Norwood needed a new press spokesman. He asked me to consider taking the job.
Naturally, I was flattered. But I'm happy here, I said, and have no desire whatsoever to uproot my family and move to Washington, D.C.
I turned him down. Stone returned to Norwood after Burns lost his re-election bid, so he was the one who penned the three paragraphs Wednesday announcing that his boss was calling his cancer treatment quits and coming back home.
That had to be hard, and it will only get harder. I hope Stone is tougher than I am.
Stone is an ex-Augusta news guy, by the way; he used to be the deep-voiced anchor on WBBQ.
As co-chairman of Columbia County's Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration, I've enjoyed Norwood's participation each year in the Memorial Day weekend event. And just as we were hearing about his health setback came news of the death of a participant in that event's holiday twin.
Chaplain Col. Calvin Garner, an Army retiree, was the second-ever honorary tree-lighter for Columbia County's Christmas in America tree-lighting ceremony. He died Tuesday.
In the county's first tree-lighting, held just three months after 9-11, the honorees were four members of the county's emergency services. The next year, the tree-lighting fell on Dec. 7, 2002 - so we thought it would be appropriate to find a Pearl Harbor survivor to light the tree.
We found Col. Garner. At age 78, he made a dashing figure in his dress uniform as he briefly addressed the crowd on the grounds of the county's government complex and then flipped the switch to light the tree.
Maybe I'm overdoing the significance, or maybe I'm just too sentimental in general, but it amazes me that a man who has been through so much, and who has given so much service to his country, would still be willing to come out on a brisk winter night just to turn on some Christmas lights. The best among us never quit giving, do they?
Rest in peace, Col. Garner.
GOP still squabbles
There's little peace these days in Columbia County's Republican Party. (Gee, what a surprise.)
More dysfunctional than a family reunion of Texas Chain Saw Massacre alumni, the party is churning over the pending election of a chairman.
Charles Allen has been serving as chairman since Lee Muns resigned to run for school board chairman, and he wants to keep the job. A Muns supporter and long-time party worker and activist, Deborah McCord, also wants the post.
(And talk about family connections: Allen's wife is county Tax Commissioner Kay Allen; McCord is the daughter of the late state Rep. Martha Moore.)
The party will hold precinct meetings Feb. 24, and a month later will elect its leaders in the county "mass meeting."
It is almost certain there will be an election this year for the congressional seat of Charlie Norwood. Columbia County can continue to dominate that district, but only if the GOP unites behind one local candidate.
That will first require unity from the party itself. If they can't quit carping at each other and take care of business, they're setting the stage for losing the 10th District congressional seat to someone from Athens. Or to a Democrat.
At least if the latter happened, they might find someone to fight instead of themselves.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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