Archive for March, 2012

NCR Brings More Jobs Home to America as it Moves into a Second Plant in Columbus

March 28, 2012

My iPhone shot of Rick Marquardt, NCR VP of Global Operations, spewkaing to members of the Rotary Club of Columbus

What stood out was seeing a powerful corporate executive become emotional when he told of how plant employees came up smiling to shake his hand, some even crying, as they thanked him for providing them jobs.  “That’s what it’s all about,” said Rick Marquardt, Vice President of Global Operations for NCR, who spoke to Columbus Rotarians today, the day he came back to town to announce the opening of a second plant in Columbus. NCR has leased the new building that Cessna was going to use but decided against it when the economy went sour.

Columbus is NCR’s only manufacturing facility in the United States. Since opening in Columbus, the plant has manufactured 25,000 ATM machines and also makes other business machines here. The corporation’s decision to bring some manufacturing jobs back to America got national attention, but he cautioned that we shouldn’t expect a lot of firms to do that. That’s sad. Still, we can be thankful that some are doing it and one as large and as successful as NCR  picked Columbus to do it. Marquardt said Columbus was chosen because of the enthusiastic and broad support it got by Columbus business leaders when deciding on which city to start making things in the U.S.A. again.

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Everything Old is New Again on the Chattahoochee

March 26, 2012

“There goes history,” some of the folks said to me as we passed on our strolls down the Phenix City Riverwalk Sunday.  I replied, “It’s change,” and, frankly, I appreciate the creative thinking that gives new life to the old Chattahoochee River in downtown Columbus and Phenix City. Not only will kyaking and rafting bring a lot of tourist money to the area, it will enhance the Riverwalking experience. Still, I was encouraged to know that there are people who understand the importance of history.

In this particular instance, though, you could say history is also being preserved by  returning the river to the state in which it existed probably for thousands of years before the Industrial Revolution came along and society decided to harness nature to manufacture things.

The results of breaching the Eagle-Phenix Dam via dynamite on the Chattahoochee River at Columbus, GA

Historians tell us that Native Americans lived where Columbus and Phenix City are now located for about ten thousand years before European settlers came along and took their land away from them. During that time there were rapids here because Columbus and Phenix City are located on the Fall Line, the drop in elevation that goes back to when to our area was an ocean beach.

This brings up an interesting issue for historic preservation purists who maintain that no old structures should be destroyed.  While being a history buff who buys any new history written by David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin no matter the subject, I’m not one of those purists. I think we should maintain examples of artifacts, but I have no problem in putting some areas to new uses. It seems to me that removing enough of the Eagle-Phenix and City Mill dams to return the whitewater to the river, but leaving remnants of them that symbolize the historical structures is an acceptable solution. Just think, we get something new, retain part of something fairly old, and restore something that is one heck of a lot older.

Showing my Grandsons How History will be Made and Unmade in Columbus Wednesday

March 19, 2012

It was good to have something interesting to show my grandsons and granddaughter-in-law when they came down from Cumming, GA to see me today. The occasion was the pending deployment of my Air Force grandson Benjamin overseas.. He came down with his brother Christopher  and sister-in-law Kristen. After we had lunch at the Cannon Brew Pub, a favorite restaurant of their’s when they were going to Columbus State, I took them to the Riverwalk so they could see the preparations for the breaching of the historic Eagle and Phenix Dam so whitewater enthusiasts can have a blast running the Chattahoochee River rapids in Columbus and Phenix City.

They found it quite  interesting. Too bad they won’t be here Wednesday when they could witness the dynamiting of the dam. I plan to be in the viewing area near the Dillingham Street Bridge at  three when the explosion takes place. It’ll  be interesting to see a piece of Columbus’ industrial history being blown to bits.

Bring Back the Draft?

March 12, 2012

Retired Col. Ralph Puckett speaking to Columbus Unitarian Universalists

Retired Colonel  Ralph Puckett, a highly decorated and honored retired U.S. Army Ranger,  told Columbus Unitarian Universalists Sunday that “our country has put unconscionable stress on the few in our society who serve in our military,” and raised the question of reinstating the draft as a way to ease that stress and resolve the unfairness of less than one percent of the population defending our country.

He said that some soldiers are on their fifth 12-month deployment.

He got an email from a brigadier general recently who is in Afghanistan  The general, referring to a photo he sent, said, “Next to me is the Brigade Command Sargeant Major. Speaking of sacrifice, this was the CSM’s fifth deployment of the war. During this tour his son fell in battle in Iraq serving as a squad leader with  the rangers. The father returned to the US with his son’s remains, attended services, and returned to duty in Afghanistan.”

Col. Puckett told of the sacrifices of the wives of soldiers, saying, “The wives of our soldiers deserve all the support and praise we can give them. They are serving, and sacrificing. They are combat multipliers!

“I know that I could not have made it without my wife, Jeannie. She is my hero, the wind beneath my wings. I would be nothing without her.”

This sacrifice is not being shared. He repeated the saying, “The Army and Marines are at war. The rest of America is in the shopping mall! Our soldiers are giving everything to include their lives while most of us give little or no thought to those who keep us free.”

As for our politicians, forty years ago there were nearly four times as many veterans in Congress as there are today.  “We expect our military to give their lives to defend America. Can we expect our politicians to put our country first before any political gain?”

He spoke of “sending volunteers on their third, fourth, and fifth deployments while the majority of our citizens exhibit little or no interest in those wars puts our country at risk.”

There would, no doubt, be one sure way to get the rest of the country interested in its wars, a military draft.  He told  of military expert Charles Moskos and Washington Post editor Paul Glastris proposing universal registration for men and women between 18 and 24. Individuals could choose service in the military, domestic security, or community organizations.

“If more of our Congress were veterans they would be less likely to support military intervention. Before the attack on Iraq, General Anthony Zinni wondered ‘why all the generals see [attacking Iraq] the same way, and those who never fired a shot in anger and are hell-bent on going to war see it a different way.”

He knows there are strong arguments against the draft. Unless there is mobilization, few serve while most don’t. Service members don’t want a return of the draft, think volunteers make much better soldiers. Then, there is the question of whether women would be drafted. “Would we evolve into an Army that is 50 percent women?  The impact of a politically correct environment could be disastrous.”

He would be for a return of the draft, but fears it would tear the country apart. Still he thinks the draft and national service “are certainly worthy of concern and an effort to resolve the unfairness of the current situation where our defense is borne by a select few.”

Col. Puckett closed with, “The changing international scene including the drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the growing war talk about Iran, Syria, and elsewhere will bring to the fore the question, ‘Who serves when all do not serve?’ “

FIghter Jets and Computer Tablets

March 10, 2012

What is more patriotic, spending more on defense than all of the other developed nations combined, or beefing up education?  “Growing industries in science and technology have twice as many openings as we have workers who can do the job,” says President Obama. That means American corporations hire more people overseas who can fill the jobs. The AARP Bulletin reports that buying seven fewer F-35 fighter jets that run $133 million a copy the money could be used to buy every first grade child in the United States a hand-held computer tablet.  The Defense Department is buying 2,443 of the joint strike fighters. 

F-35

The Microphone that Made it to the Columbus Museum

March 5, 2012

The inspiration for this post comes from my PIC QUIZ feature on Facebook. I asked folks to tell me the significance and type of this antique microphone.

Paul  Pierce, artistic director of the Springer Opera House, was the winner of the ATTABOY AWARD because he knew that it is a carbon microphone, and suggested that  it is from the Jim Woodruff era at WRBL. I said that was close enough if he was referring to Jim Woodruff, Sr., not Jim Woodruff, Jr. Jim Woodruff, Jr. ended up running and owning the largest share of the station,  but it was Sr.who bought WRBL in the  early 1930’s and, this mic was being used then. It could even have been used when WRBL went on the air in 1928 in a dressing room of the now gone Royal Theater.  The Royal became the Three Arts Theater before the building became victim of the wrecking ball.

Roy Martin, the man who built  the Royal, a 2,700-seat movie and vaudeville theater, was the first owner of WRBL radio, which went on the air with a 50-watt transmitter built by “Radio” Bill Lewis – hence the call letters WRBL – who continued working as an engineer at WRBL long after Roy Martin sold it. Legend has it that he sold it because he thought it couldn’t be profitable because “you have to pay all those people to be on the radio.”  Over the years it went from a 50-watt independent to a 250-watt, and, finally, a 5,000-watt CBS affiliate that made a lot of profit, and gave birth to WRBL-FM, and, finally WRBL-TV which has made tons of profits over the years. Martin’s theater chain was quite profitable, too. And it got back into the broadcasting business when it became part owner of WDAK-TV, which morphed into WTVM. It became sole owner of WTVM. It’s been sold a number of times since then, as has WRBL-TV.

So you can see that the old carbon mic is an important historical artifact.  It now belongs to the Columbus Museum.  Don Nahley, who was given the mic when he left WRBL-TV as manager, asked me and former broadcast journalist Al Fleming to  join him in presenting the mic to the museum.  Don and I worked together at  WRBL-TV for many years, and we worked with Al there for a short while. Museum Executive Director Tom Butler accepted the microphone for the museum’s collection of historical artifacts. Don, Al, and I are all glad it’s now the property of the museum. We think that is where it  should be.