On Sunday afternoon, March 3, snow was blanketing parts of Alabama. The massive, late-winter storm was moving into Atlanta and across northern Georgia, covering communities in snow and ice.
Watching reports of the precipitation move toward our area, and relying on forecasts that predicted below-freezing temperatures and dangerous road conditions for the next morning, and after consulting with Columbia County Emergency and Operations Director Pam Tucker, School Superintendent Charles Nagle decided to close schools the next day.
When Monday morning dawned, the temperature was well above freezing and the skies were mostly clear. There wasn't a snowflake in sight.
While most people who had been looking at the same alarmist forecasts agreed with Nagle's call and were glad he'd given them plenty of advance notice to prepare for school closing, the usual Monday-morning quarterbacks also delivered their criticisms - the same barbs they would have launched had Nagle decided to keep the schools open.
Danged if you do, and danged if you don't.
I know how Nagle felt. Saturday afternoon, with intermittent showers falling in the area, Columbia County Community Events Coordinator Stacie Adkins and I agonized over whether to cancel the Red, White and Blue Veterans Celebration.
The outdoor event was in its ninth year and had never been canceled due to weather. Saturday became the first time, when after consulting several people - including Tucker - we decided to pull the plug a little more than two hours before the event.
It felt awful. It would have been worse if our reading of the forecasts had been wrong and the rain stayed away.
Instead, just about the time U.S. Rep. Paul Broun would have been speaking at the event, the bottom fell out. I drove over to the Justice Center about 8 p.m. when the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band had been scheduled to begin. Rain was falling too hard for them to play, much less for anyone to sit and listen.
We hated canceling the show. But at least the rain vindicated the call.
See you next year.
Porter coming, too
In comments the other day about this Friday's Democratic Party forum at the library with gubernatorial candidates David Poythress and Thurbert Baker, I neglected to mention the Democrats' third declared candidate: DuBose Porter.
Considering Porter owns a newspaper in Dublin, that's a near-ironic omission on my part.
Porter, the state Senate minority leader, also will be a guest of the Columbia County Democrats Monday at the Government Complex Auditorium at 7 p.m.
They're serving barbecue at Friday's event, and it costs $20 to eat. There's no food for Porter's visit, so admission is free.
A fictional victim?
The arrest of 50-year-old Michael Adam of Martinez last week, for what cops say was an attempt to arrange sex with a 13-year-old who turned out to be a New York cop, sparked an interesting philosophical discussion.
If the alleged crime is attempting sex with a 13-year-old, is there an actual crime if the victim is imaginary?
Step away from the conspiracy-to-commit-a-crime angle and all the other legalistic stuff, and just consider who was being victimized. The 13-year-old "victim" in the case does not exist. She is only a figment of the perpetrator's imagination, and a construct of the cops' snare.
Perhaps some legal-beagle could explain whether anyone has ever mounted a constitutional challenge to such an arrest based on their right to confront their accuser - because clearly the cops in this case cannot produce an actual 13-year-old victim.
It makes you wonder, too: How many such people are in jail for committing Internet crimes against actual minors - and how many are locked up for virtual crimes against fictional minors?
The electronic frontier is a complicated place, no doubt.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail barry.paschal@newstimes online.com.
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