Largely because Michelle Wie's golfing abilities still are mostly of a figment of hyperventilating sports writers' imaginations, the Masters Tournament this week will once again feature a male-only field of competitors.
Just west of the famed Augusta National, however, the playing field is starting to tilt.
Welcome to Columbia County, where men are men and women are in charge.
We're not talking about on the golf course, though I understand the best golfer in the household of County Commission Chairman Ron Cross is his wife, Jan. Still, in Columbia County leadership, it's the women who wear the pants in the family.
Don't think so? Once I lay out this case, you'll be wondering if they've been putting estrogen in the county water supply.
January 2007 began with Regina Buccafusco being sworn in as the county's first-ever countywide elected school board chairman. She replaced Wayne Bridges, the county's last board-elected chairman, after winning a December runoff election for the post.
At the same time, Jean Roper was taking the reins as the new chairman of the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, succeeding George Duehring.
A couple of months later, and just a few weeks after the resignation of Gordon Renshaw as the chamber's executive director, the chamber board hired Karen Chjrapin as the chamber's first-ever female director.
She started her new job Monday. A couple of days earlier, the Columbia County Republican Party delegates at the party's convention elected Deborah McCord as the party's first-ever female chairman. (McCord's late mother, former state Rep. Martha Moore, also was Columbia County's first, and to date only, female member of the state Legislature.)
Add to all this the fact that helping to sell our county to all the tourists in town this week is the director of the county's new Convention and Visitors Bureau, Beda Johnson.
And then factor in that of the county's five constitutional officers (sheriff, coroner, clerk of court, probate judge and tax commissioner), three are female. And the comptrollers and personnel (OK, "human resources") directors for both Columbia County government and the school system are female, and the county's elections and emergency services directors also are women, and men are starting to look like an endangered species.
Bucking the trend is school superintendent-to-be Charles Nagle. He'll be working with a majority-female school board, and all of his assistant and associate superintendents, and the newly promoted deputy superintendent, are women.
But Nagle will get along just fine; he has a wife and three daughters, so he's accustomed to being outnumbered!
Incidentally, among these women are two with names that came with their husbands, and which are a little difficult to pronounce.
Everyone has pretty much figured out "Buccafusco" by now, though the new board chairman has often talked about how the name got butchered when she worked as a substitute teacher. Brutal.
But the somewhat new kid on the block is Karen Chjrapin. The pronunciation of that Ukrainian-derived name defies all phonetic logic. "Everybody wants to know, 'Can I buy a vowel?' Chjrapin jokes.
Before the chamber's small business seminar the other day, Developement Authority Director Zack Daffin asked Chjrapin for help in pronouncing her name. "It's 'SHRAP-in," she said. "Just think of SHRAP-nel."
Armed with that knowledge, Daffin later fired off an introduction of Chjrapin for her first event in the post of chamber director.
As Karen Shrapnel.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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