Before the summertime political season overwhelms all sanity, let's sew up a few loose ends.
First, belated congratulations to Rachael Cundey, Columbia County's two-time traveler to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
I'm not sure in all the coverage of her feats have we adequately conveyed the monumental achievement of a fourth-grader, and then a fifth-grader, winning our county and regional competitions twice in a row and competing on the national level. It's phenomenal.
Having finished with honors at South Columbia Elementary, Rachael will be in the sixth grade this year. Obviously she is the prohibitive favorite for a "three-peat" next year. Best of luck to her.
Hooray for us
While we're handing out congratulations, pats on the back all around to my fellow staffers. For the eighth time in 10 years, The News-Times has been recognized as the best newspaper in its class in the state of Georgia.
We're proud of the accomplishments. But there are a couple of back-story tidbits that help put these achievements into perspective.
First, in those two years where we didn't win, it was because the Georgia Press Association caved in to grousing from other papers in our category (non-daily, but more than once a week) and forced us to compete against daily newspapers. We still landed a respectable number of awards, but the competition hardly was fair.
The GPA since put us in a new category competing with large-circulation, non-daily newspapers.
Second, these awards are judged by media associations from other states. We aren't just trading accolades around the room; the recognition comes from outside.
Altogether, we're glad to be able to toot our own horn.
A brother's book
Many thanks to Harold Mays.
Political old-timers around here know Mays best for his longtime involvement with the county's Republican Party. Business people know him for his ownership of heavy truck dealership Mays International in Augusta.
But my thanks are for the gift of a book that I recently finished. It was written and published by his now-deceased older brother, Charles O'Donald Mays, and is titled Sweet Magnolias & English Lavender: An Anglo-American Romance.
The book is Charles' life story, starting with his rural roots in the Louisville, Ga., area, following him through his education at the University of Georgia, and then to San Francisco and to England during World War II.
It was there that he met Mary, a young British lass, marrying her after the war and bringing her back stateside. The book then chronicles their lives as he works in the foreign service in Europe before settling into retirement, and Mary's eventual passing from Alzheimer's in southern England.
It's a delightful book, a little draggy in spots and sometimes a little too detailed -we peek behind the bedroom door on their honeymoon, for example -but overall it's a wonderful trip through an interesting life.
I plan to donate my copy for the Columbia County Library to share. Check it out.
There is significant sadness among friends and family at the passing of attorney Bill Williams, and there is a small amount of irony in the timing of his death.
It was exactly four years ago this past week that Williams announced his candidacy for the Augusta Judicial Circuit judgeship being vacated by his longtime friend, Senior Judge Bill Fleming.
Williams lost that race to David Roper. If he had won, Williams would have been scheduled to file next week for re-election. Instead, the governor would be appointing a judge to fill the unexpired term, and we'd have attorneys scrambling to run for an unexpectedly open seat.
Our time isn't God's time, as the saying goes, so none of this matters to Williams any more. He lived a long, accomplished life, and that's how he'll be remembered.
(Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow at twitter.com/barrypaschal.)
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