Because I work for a community newspaper, one of my favorite things is to read other community newspapers.
I especially like small-town papers. The Columbia County News-Times used to be one of those, with gossip and social-news columns written by little old ladies, and front-page stories about PTO meetings.
We've grown a little too big for most of that stuff, though we still try hard to keep the homey feel. But a recent piece in another paper let me know just what we're, um, missing.
The News-Reporter, the weekly paper in Washington, Ga. - a beautiful, historic town you probably bypass (literally) on the way to Athens - recently ran a wedding announcement for a young couple.
The names here will be deleted to protect the guilty. And no, I'm not making any of this up.
The photo was the first tip that this would not be a traditional wedding. Not because of the bride; her photo is of a pretty young girl, wearing a basic, spaghetti-strap dress.
But her groom? He was pictured in profile, baring the tattoos on his left bicep. We could see those tattoos because his dress shirt had the sleeves ripped off. He did have a tie on, complementing his camouflage John Deere ball cap.
The wedding, the story tells us, was held "in the field of the game room of the bride's uncle and aunt." Wedding guests were beckoned by a sign reading "My Red-Neck Wedding," and sat on hay bales covered with Confederate flags.
The bride, wearing cowgirl boots, arrived on the back of a four-wheeler driven by her father.
After the ceremony - conducted by the bride's grandfather - the reception was held in the pasture by a pond, where "guests enjoyed the afternoon outside riding four-wheelers and knee boarding as well as the game room festivities."
The groom's cake, we understand, "was topped with a Copenhagen can and monster truck."
Somehow, I can almost hear the wedding march being played on a banjo.
And we're worried about gay weddings ruining the sanctity of marriage?
See this dignified announcement for yourself at http://www.news-reporter.com/news/2008/0814/personalities/031.html
Washington has nothing on us for waterfront festivities though. We got the governor to visit last week.
Sonny Perdue came to Savannah Rapids Pavilion for a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Paul Broun.
I didn't go, but I did enjoy hearing about some of Perdue's comments - especially the way he unashamedly slammed local governments for their spending while the state is having to slash its bloated budget.
When the Columbia County Commission spends money on something constituents think is excessive, they can pick up the phone and call their commissioner, or even all of the commissioners - heck, there aren't but five of them.
When the state spends money like drunken sailors we can call our local lawmakers, or maybe even call the governor. But it is hardly feasible to call all 180 members of the state House, and all 56 members of the Senate, plus the lieutenant governor and the governor - all of whom have input on the state's legislative process.
Ronald Reagan knew this; that's why he was such a strong advocate of federal spending cuts. His philosophy was that spending should take place as close to home as possible, because that's where the most accountability is.
Unfortunately, we've turned that philosophy upside down. We've traded Reaganites for RINOs. Federal spending has now mortgaged our children's futures. The state of Georgia is trying to balance its budget on the backs of local governments.
And we taxpayers are just left to wonder when the next shoe is going to drop on us.
It'll probably be shaped like a monster truck.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.)
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