Schools on Monday got off to what everyone says was a great start.
At Harlem High School, that start was awesome.
Harlem has a unique program. Opening day begins with a school-wide assembly in which the seniors are introduced in a processional much like graduation.
With 1,300 students, Harlem is the county's only high school that can still fit its staff and students into the gym at one time. They certainly put it to good use Monday.
Along with inspirational remarks from Principal Alan Griffin and Augusta State University Athletic Director Clint Bryant, two groups of student performers electrified the crowd.
The first was Mallorie Jones (daughter of a Harlem Class of 1979 classmate, Ludy Jones), along with Gabby Dorsey, Katherine Rosas, Alisha Jones, Octavious Boyd and C.J. Little.
The second was Deno Tomlinson, who performed a rap he'd composed specifically for the class of '08.
Fine job from all of them, and a great way to start the year.
Early faux pas
Speaking of great starts and Harlem High, one of its alumni started making more noises this past week that sounded a lot like plans to run for higher office.
It's obvious that state Rep. Barry Fleming had serious regrets about not entering the race for the 10th District U.S. House seat - especially since his Columbia County delegation colleague, Jim Whitehead, lost to Athens resident Paul Broun in the race to succeed Charlie Norwood.
Fleming last week told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Political Insider column that he's considering a run next year.
Fleming, remember, backed out of the race when Whitehead muscled his way in - and undoubtedly believes he could have won it. He'll get a chance to try that theory in 2008.
Fleming's comments came as newly elected Broun spent the past week attempting what some see as damage control for a verbal gaffe: He had offered tentative support of a bill that takes another look at some of the recommendations of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Our community breathed a sigh of relief that Fort Gordon was spared from BRAC. Even though this bill is going nowhere, the idea of reopening the process is near blasphemous.
The attraction, however, is at the other end of the district - Broun's hometown, where the Navy Supply School in Athens got the BRAC ax. The bill in question would seek reexamination of bases recommended for closing if the cost for closure has escalated more than a specific amount.
Keeping the base open would be a mixed bag for Athens, because it would take away the site the University of Georgia wants to buy for a satellite medical school - a major issue in Broun's campaign.
Broun visited Fort Gordon Wednesday, the same day his office issued a press release announcing a small federal grant for MCG. Broun knows for every good thing he does for the Athens end of the district, he's compelled to throw a couple of bones here.
Apartment zoning showdown ahead?
The agenda wasn't available at press time, but a lot of people in Martinez are buzzing about the possible upcoming rezoning by county commissioners Tuesday for an apartment complex on Wheeler Road.
Neighboring homeowners are miffed about the project. And Springlakes residents are fearful of its potential impact on Martinez Elementary School.
Apparently Sheriff Clay Whittle also is preparing to weigh in with statistics showing how much these complexes cost taxpayers in additional police calls.
I can't see a single justification for rezoning any land for apartments, period. When do we say "enough"?
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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