Posts Tagged ‘Phenix City’

Most of the Stores May be Gone, but the Christmas Parade Still Draws Big Crowds in Downtown Columbus

December 10, 2012

It’s Monday, the day I  promised to  try to post something new, and I  haven’t posted anything yet. So, here goes.


I suppose I could say something about Christmas parades since Columbus,  Georgia had one Saturday.  I’ve been in a lot of them over the years, and I’ve watched a few.  I started being in them when I was in the Bob Barr Jordan High  School band back in the forties. Then, as a news anchor at different times for WRBL and WTVM, I rode in convertibles with female co-anchors, and we tossed candy into the crowds, and waved a lot, not necessarily because we wanted to, but because the stations wanted us to. Sometimes some wise guys would pick up the candy and throw it back at us. Guess I can’t blame them. They didn’t ask for  candy to be tossed to them. Eventually, we stopped tossing the candy and just waved.

It is really interesting the way thousands of folks converge on downtown Columbus and Phenix City for the parades just like they did when people did their Christmas shopping downtown.  Most of the retail stores closed or  moved to shopping centers.  One of the prominent ones that didn’t is Chancellors. Perhaps it benefited from the parade. I hope so. I like Chancellors  and still shop there. They may be considered a little pricey, but you  get good stuff, and they make sure it fits. My late mother use to buy all of my father’s suits, shoes, and top coats there, saying you pay a little more, but it looks good and it lasts and lasts.   Wonder if wives still buy most of their husband’s wearing apparel. They must, because I still see a lot of women in men’s clothing departments.


As for the parade itself, it was really long and had huge gaps between sections and lacked a main ingredient for parades, a lot of  big high school bands. If it had not been for Central  High of Phenix City, there would not have been a big high school band in  the parade.  I ran into Ledger-Enquirer editor and reporter Chuck Williams at the end of the parade, and he told me that the Muscogee County high school bands were absent because the parade fell on the day the bands audition for the state honors band.  He said he knew that because his daughter is in the Columbus High School Blue Devil Band.  And later the paper explained one of those gaps by reporting that a young girl walking by a float fell under the float and an ambulance had to be called to take her to the emergency room.

All in all, though, I would say the parade was a big success. Folks appeared to  be having a good time and were in good spirits.  People obviously still do love a parade.

As the old saying goes, sorry this is so long, but I didn’t  have time to write a short post today.

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.

Troy University Edges out Auburn U. and Alabama

August 18, 2009


Steve Dennis, Troy University Athletic Director,  speaking to Phenix City Rotarians, Phenix City, AL

Steve Dennis, Troy University Athletic Director, speaking to Phenix City Rotarians, Phenix City, AL

According to Forbes magazine, Troy University is the number one university in Alabama, edging out both Auburn U. and the University of Alabama.  That’s what Troy’s Director of Athletics Steve Dennis told members of the Phenix City Rotary Club Monday.  He said that Forbes listed the rankings of all U.S. universities and Troy came out ahead of all other Alabama schools of higher education.

He spent the majority of his speech on academics,  how the school makes learning its top priority, and how important online learning has become.  He says the school has a number of online course now,  but that is just the beginning.  Troy U. hopes to eventually offer just about all of its course online.  He was especially proud of  Troy’s program of teaching America’s active duty military personnel,  commenting that soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are now taking online courses.  

While he did emphasize academics, he also made it clear that college life is about a lot more.  “It is where young people start deciding who they really are,  what they plan to do in life, and quite often meet their life-partners.” 

And, while he didn’t concentrate on athletics, he did make it clear how important athletic programs are for students.  He said coaches are primarily teachers, mentors who have a tremendous responsibility of instilling the proper values in their students, not just winning,  but being responsible human beings.

When he did get around to discussing athletics, he did admit that some coaches make millions of dollars a year, and that includes both Auburn and Alabama.  But, he said,  if a coach is in it just for the money, he is not the type of coach that Troy wants.  He said when Troy learns that an applicant says he is in it for the money, Troy looses interest in that applicant.  Troy wants coaches that are in it because they love the game and they love positively molding young people.

Afterwards I asked him what his head football coach makes.  He said, “$300,000.”  I said, “Why is he making that when coaches at other schools, schools like Alabama and Auburn,  are making millions?”

He explained that Alabama and Auburn are SEC teams,  and making millions for coaches on those teams is standard.  However, Troy is a Sun Belt Conference team and his coach, Larry Blakeney, is making a top salary for that division.  No doubt, he should, because he is the winningest coach in Troy U’s history,  and the fourth winningest coach in state history, only behind “Bear” Bryant,  Cleve Abott, and Shug Jordan.

“Isn’t the tail waging the dog when so much money is being spent on athletics, money that should on academics?”

He said that school teams pull in millions of dollars for the schools, and that the money doesn’t just go for athletic programs, but also for academic buildings, etc.  Some it goes to the huge, nationally honored,  Sound of the South Band that plays for the halftime ceremonies. He added that academics is the top priority for schools, and that athletic programs are the tail of the school.

Maybe so, but when that tail wags,  mammoth stadiums fill up,  and millions of folks sit in front of their television sets to watch.  Millions of dollars are wagered on outcomes,  and many conversations are dominated for days by what happened on the football field.

Troy University has campuses in Troy, Dothan,  Phenix City, and Montgomery in Alabama,  and facilities in 14 other states, including one in Atlanta.  It also has facilities in nine other countries.

Colin Powell on Columbus, Phenix City, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh

December 12, 2008


Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama
Gen. Colin Powell Parkway, Phenix City, Alabama

 Colin Powell Parkway in Phenix City, Alabama signifies how much has changed since 1963.  Former Secretary of State  Powell, who became a four-star general and Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when serving on active duty in the Army,  was pleased by that  honor because it demonstrated how much Phenix City and Columbus has progressed in race relations since he was at Fort Benning in the 1958 and 1963.

  In an interview on the Academy of Achievement website in 1998,  Powell recalled his experiences in the Columbus-Phenix City area right after he had returned from Vietnam.  At Fort Benning, “You could go anywhere, live anywhere, do anything you wished to do. But as soon as you went over the hill, and down into Columbus, Georgia, it was a totally segregated existence.”

  It was duirng that time that  he lived in Phenix City, where he is now honored, because housing on post wasn’t available.  One day, working on his house, he  decided to take a break to go to a drive-in restaurant in Columbus to get a hamburger.  He said a young lady came out to take his order.  She looked in the car and asked him if  “I was a Puerto Rican, and I said ‘no,’   Then she asked me if I was an African student studying at the Infantry School.”   He told that he was an American, to which she replied that  she was sorry but she couldn’t bring the food to him, that she couldn’t serve it to him in his car,  that  he would have to go around to the back to be served.  He told her, “Thanks, but no thanks,”   and left.

    When he came back to the Columbus-Phenix City area a few years ago, he found different cities, cities that honored him for his service to his country. I heard him speak at the Rotary Club of Columbus during that visit, where he was roundly applauded, and after that, went to Phenix City to be honored in a ceremony naming the parkway after him. 

  He stayed in the  news after he retired from the Army when President George W. Bush appointed him Secretary of State.  Powell was, and still is, a Republican.  But, he thinks the party must change if it  is to remain viable, and that it should stop following the advice of Rush Limbaugh, who, he said, “appelas to our lesser instincts, not our better ones.”  He also thought it is a mistake to follow the leadership of Alaska Govenor Sarah Palin.  He  told this to  CNN’s Fareed Zakharia  in an interview that will be aired Sunday at 1 p.m.

How Will I Celebrate Alabama’s 189th Anniversary?

December 11, 2008

  Sunday, December 14, 2008, the State of Alabama will be 189 years old. What are you going to do to celebrate?  I think I’ll go over to Idle Hour Park  because that is the part of Alabama that appealed to me the most when I was a child.  That’s when you could get on a Columbus city bus and ride it to Idle Hour Park in Phenix City.

  If it were the older park of my childhood, I could celebrate by going swimming in the pool, which is where I basically learned to swim; or, I could go to one of the two ballrooms and maybe do an anniversary waltz or something.  That’s right.  Two ballrooms.  One of them also doubled as a skating rink.  Maybe you’d skate up until it was time for the dance, which featured live bands and had one of those turning balls with tiny mirrors that reflected colored patterns on the walls and ceiling.  I could also celebrate by bowling, or having a hamburger in the restaurant next to the bowling alley. 

  I suppose the most memorable thing about Idle Hour was when I jumped off a whirligig type of thing on the playground and broke my leg.   Funny, how the bad things are always more vivid than the good ones.

  Frankly, the old Idle Hour didn’t have much class, but it was a lot of fun. The new Idle Hour does have  class, with the walking trail around the pond, manicured grounds and quaking ducks providing a really beautiful place to walk.   Back in the old days, the park, owned by Roy Martin, featured an inboard, expensive, furniture-quality wooden, fancy speedboat.  I think for $5.00 you were sped around the lake one time. Probably took 45 seconds.

 I won’t be able to do that, but maybe I’ll walk around the pond as the way I’ll celebrate  Alabama’s 189th birthday.

  Now, you may ask why I haven’t mentioned the illegal slot machines and casinos with roulette wheels, poker, craps,  and blackjack tables that were operating during my tender years.  They didn’t have any of that at Idle Hour Park. It was strictly a family place, though you could buy a beer if you were old enough. They did have  slot machines in other places, though, sometimes in a grocery store, and in the casino at Southern Manor night club. That was where Columbus’ Fate Leebern was murdered.  Yes, it was quite interesting to be able to go across the river to participate in those illegal vices, but I don’t think I’ll celebrate it.

BRAC Brings Big Volume Home Builders from Out of Town

June 25, 2008

  Howard Jefferson tells me that some local home builders are not happy with him. He says it’s because his company is working hand in glove with out-of-town builders who are building homes cheaper than they can. Howard is the Principal Alabama Broker for Coldwell Banker Kennon Parker Duncan & Key. (Disclosure: we are in the same Rotary club.) He has empathy for the local builders, many of whom he has worked with over the years, but says the large building firms are a reality of the times.




Howard Jefferson

Coldwell Banker Kennon Parker Duncan & Key



  The thing about it, though, is that, during this housing sales slump, his firm is selling a lot of new houses. And, with BRAC bringing close to 30,000 new people into the area, they expect to sell a lot more.  The reason the houses built by huge out-of-town firms are selling is simple: price. 


  The main action right now is in Russell and Lee Counties, and Phenix City in Alabama. “There is more land available, and you get more house for the money, and taxes are lower than in Columbus,” he told me.  He should know; he heads up the Coldwell Banker group in the Russell and Lee Counties’ area of Alabama. 


“We are the number one real estate company in this area.  We get a 35 percent share of all homes listed in Columbus, and a 40 percent share in the Phenix City, Russell and Lee County area.” 


  Howard took me on a tour of the Fort Mitchell area which was an eye-opener. First of all, he took me to a subdivision built by local builders that have a lot of houses for sale. Then he took me to Villages at Westgate, which is close to the Fort Benning west gate, the one that’s on the back side of Lawson Field.




Fort Benning’s West Gate




 These houses are selling just about as fast as they can build them, which shows that you don’t have to wait for BRAC to sell homes to Fort Benning soldiers. Tim Drew, a realtor on the site, says about 60 percent of home owners at Westgate are soldiers and their families.




Villages at Westgate



  Coldwell Bankers is selling them for Scenic Homes, which is headquartered in Snellville, Georgia. Scenic has constructed more than 5,000 homes in Georgia, Louisiana, North and South Carolina.  It’s the 54th largest builder in the country. Scenic claims that “Scenic Homes offers a wide variety of floor plans with up to approximately 2,900 square feet at a fraction of the cost of their competitors.”  Actually, according to Drew, the homes get as large as 3,059 square feet.


How can they do that?  For one thing, economy of scale. They can get better prices for building materials because of the large quantities they buy. Also, they have cheap labor, Howard told me. Who else makes tons of money using that philosophy? How about Wal-Mart?


  The houses in Westgate are impressive. It’s hard to believe that you can get such a large, new home for the price. 






 Great Room of a Westgate home






These homes range in price from $169,000 to $203,000. Coldwell Banker has already sold more than a hundred of them, and expects, before it’s all over, to sell more than 700 of them. The Fort Mitchell area is expected to grow by at least three thousand people as a result of the move of the 3rd Armor School to Fort Benning starting in the 4th quarter of next year.


    We’ll continue our look at the way BRAC will affect our area in future posts. Stay tuned. 


Impact of the BRAC Impact Hearing

June 23, 2008

  Last Tuesday evening I got the feeling that most people are still in denial about the huge way our world is changing and how they are going to have to change with it.



  BRAC hearing at Columbus Public Library


  At the BRAC impact hearing at the Columbus Public Library, we all were given the opportunity of saying which of our transportation needs should have the top priority when 30,000 new folks with their thousands of cars and trucks move into the area.



                                          Voting Remote

Casting my vote



  When five options were listed on the screen, we used our voter remotes to register our choices. After all of the clicking was done, not to my surprise, the vast majority, 53 per cent, clicked on “minimize congestion.”  





“Add new sidewalks and bike trails” came in second at 22 percent.


 The one I clicked, “improve transit service” came in 4th at ten percent, beat out by “repair existing roads” at 12 percent.


  Last, and a big surprise to the folks who were conducting the hearing, was “improve access to Fort Benning,” at only 4 percent.  After all, the growth at Fort Benning is the reason for the big influx of people to our area.


  One man in the back of the room said he was surprised that “improve transit service” got such a low vote. I joined him in that opinion and said, “Considering the energy future, you have to wonder why people are still talking cars and roads and not mass transit and rails.”


  The man sitting next to me joined in with, “When gasoline hits $12 a gallon you are not going to have to worry about traffic congestion. People won’t be driving their cars.” 


  Retiring Deputy Superintendent of the Muscogee County School District Dr. Robin Pennock, said, “Solving the traffic congestion problem will take a combination of all of the options on that list.”




  Dr. Robin Pennock, Deputy Superintendent MCSD


  She was right, in my view.


  The BRAC (Base Closure and Realignment Commission) issue is bringing out a lot of other issues that are important to our community. They would be important, even if the

area wasn’t about to grow by about 30,000 people in the next few years.  I’ll be discussing them in future posts.







Welcome to Dick’s World

June 8, 2008


  I’m Dick and I welcome you to my world.


  My world, geographically, is Columbus, Fort Benning, Cumming, Smyrna, Kennesaw, Atlanta, and Athens, Georgia, Phenix City, Alabama, and Anywhere, U.S.A.


 That’s because I live in Columbus, which was just listed by some organization that does such things as the 4th best place in the United States to raise children. I am not sure why, but maybe one reason is because one of our Little League teams won the Little League Baseball World Series a couple of years ago. Balancing that are the low scores that too many of our public school kids are achieving on standardized tests.


  My son, daughter-in law, and two grandsons live at Cumming.


   I have stepsons, a step daughter-in-law, and step-grandchildren in Kennesaw, Atlanta, Athens, and one who drives a semi and just might call me from anywhere in the country.  


   I go to Smyrna a lot because my niece and her family live there.


    Part of this new blog of mine will be about what happens where they live since that’s part of my world.


   The rest will be about current events in Columbus, Georgia; Phenix City, Alabama; Georgia, Alabama, and, well, the world.


  It will also be about philosophy, movies, books, TV shows, music, politics and anything that I just happen to want to talk about.  


  Also, I am interested in you and what you think. So you are welcome to comment on any post on the blog. I just ask that you refrain from hardcore gutter language – oh, a hell or damn here and there is okay – and libelous statements. I reserve the right not to print any comment, but I don’t recall not publishing any non-spam comment on my last blog,   


  Again, welcome. Please make yourself at home.