One of the traditionally fun things about Masters week is seeing all the golf cars pop up on display in front of area businesses.
It's a powerful reminder to our visitors, and to those of us who might otherwise take it for granted, that we're the home base for three small vehicle manufacturers.
The big one for Columbia County, of course, is Club Car. Their display in front of the Washington Road plant in Evans generally is the area's best, with a variety of golf cars and specialty vehicles out front.
Much smaller, but also on Washington Road just across the county line, is Tomberlin with its world-class LSV (Low Speed Vehicles) aiming for use not just on the course, but on city streets around the world. Check out their Web site at tomberlin.net; incredible stuff. (The company's owner lives in Columbia County, by the way.)
And then there's the granddaddy of golf cars, Augusta's E-Z-Go, which has the distinction of being the only one of the nameplates on the vehicles inside the gates of the Augusta National.
This year's coolest golf car on display, though, was the tricked-out vehicle sitting in front of the Top Notch Express Car Wash on North Belair Road, just off Washington Road in Evans.
It was a mock-up of Tow Mater, the animated towtruck from the Disney movie "Cars," complete with buck teeth and eyes on the windshield.
The vehicle was built by Custom Carts of Augusta, a Gordon Highway business that specializes in rebuilding and tricking out golf cars.
And Tow Mater, it turns out, is more than just a looker: It's a real working towtruck.
Custom Carts owner Tommie Crabb says Tow Mater usually is at work in front of fans at NASCAR races, where it's used to tow the personal transportation vehicles used by drivers and other VIPs at the track.
Alas, they hauled Tow Mater back to work, so it's no longer in Evans to show the kids. You can still ride by the display at Club Car, though; the car dressed up like a 1957 Chevy is especially cool.
What won't be on display during Masters week is any resolution to the Marshall Square lawsuit.
Word has it that Superior Court Chief Judge Carlisle Overstreet is going on vacation this week. So any ruling on the developers' motion for partial summary judgment in their lawsuit against the county isn't likely to come until after his return.
The case itself is still evolving, even after the recent hearing. Based on initial comments from a county commissioner, whose name they haven't revealed, the developers believed the county had held an illegal, secret meeting to line up their votes to cut the number of apartments allowed at Marshall Square.
Once they put all the commissioners in the hot seat for depositions, though, each one of them denied under oath that any such secret pre-meeting had occurred.
So, without evidence to prove the illegal meeting occurred, Marshall Square's claim to punitive damages fizzled. The county motioned to drop the claim, and Marshall Square's attorneys agreed.
But now, says Marshall Square attorney Bill Trotter, they're working up the bill for actual economic damages resulting from what they consider "inverse condemnation" of the property.
There are several different factors to those damages, and they probably won't finish mapping out the numbers for a few more days. But Trotter seems certain the amount will be higher than the $17.5 million currently on the table.
He also says the county has made several overtures about settling the suit, though the numbers they've tossed out sound halfway between ludicrous and insulting.
In any event, everyone will likely take a breather during Masters Week, including Judge Overstreet. Maybe they'll come back tanned, rested and ready to resolve this issue.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail barry.paschal@newstimes online.com. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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