Surprise: The newest United States senator is from Columbia County.
I bet you didn't know that. U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, picked by New York Gov. David Patterson to fill Hillary Clinton's vacant seat, lives in Columbia County.
OK, sure, it's Columbia County, N.Y. But she's backed by the National Rifle Association, she voted against the federal bank bailout bill (unlike out own Republican senators), and the liberals pitched a fit when she was appointed. So she'd probably be welcome around here, too.
All this means it's probably time for us to do another one of those other-Columbia County stories, including those in Florida, Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania - and, of course, New York.
Columbia County Day
It won't have anything to do with New York when in Atlanta Columbia County Day is held at the state Capitol.
The now-annual event is organized by the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Development Authority, with funding provided by AT&T (whose local representative, Stan Shepherd, is the development authority board chairman and husband of chamber staffer Tammy Shepherd) and Atlanta Gas Light.
The chamber board's acceptance last week of Executive Director Karen Chrjapin's resignation isn't expected to change today's event. She's still the director for at least 60 days, or until the board finds a replacement.
This year's event will have one significant change from last year's, however.
Last year, the chamber found that when you offer free Mot's Barbecue in the Capitol, the lawmakers aren't the only ones who show up to eat. In fact, office workers seeking free lunch - a hot commodity in pricy Atlanta - outnumbered legislators by a huge ratio.
As a result, much of the event's limited space was occupied by bureaucrats who weren't interested in the county boosters' displays, and little room was left for local officials to rub elbows with lawmakers.
The chamber won't cut off the office staffers, but they plan to set up the feed line so that VIPs can be herded into a room to view county displays and get sales pitches from county agencies.
The bureaucrats will get free food, but they'll have to go somewhere else to eat.
Good men gone
Columbia County lost a couple of good men last week.
Hal Morris passed away Friday at age 70.
Morris was involved in a tremendous number of community activities, but perhaps is most widely known for having run for office several times - most recently in 2004 for Columbia County magistrate.
I suppose it was both a badge of honor and a slap in the face that, in the legislative session after that election, Columbia County's delegation pushed through a bill that required magistrate candidates in larger counties like ours to have a law degree.
Though Morris previously served in the magistrate's office, the change in the law shut him out of another run for the top job.
Morris was a fine man in any event, and certainly isn't defined by losses at the ballot box. He was a winner in the community where it counted.
On the previous Monday, Richard Netzley passed away - just four days shy of his 85th birthday.
Netzley was a Brandon Wilde resident, an Ohio native and a World War II veteran.
But we know him best because he frequently penned letters to the editor. Staunchly conservative and frequently sarcastic, Netzley was a diehard critic of county government because of what he considered its excessive friendliness to developers.
We agreed on a lot of issues and disagreed on others, but it was clear that he had a sharp mind and paid close attention to local news. I'll certainly miss hearing from him.
God bless the families of Morris and Netzley.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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