Chattahoochee Chatter: 647 days but who's counting?

March 27, 2013 

Six hundred and forty seven days before her term expires, Cathy Williams, the lone at-large representative on the nine-member Muscogee County School Board, announced on her Facebook page that she will not seek re-election.

The March 24 post explained her decision to focus on her "real" job as president of NeighborWorks Columbus: "The crap we call politics has toasted me. It is no wonder to me that more people do not want to jump into the fray of public office. It sucks. If you cut through the politics and really look at what public education means to our society (I believe it is the cornerstone of our Republic) you just might agree.

"Again, don't get me wrong, I have served with some who have given a new meaning to 'Servant Leadership'. … But, I have also served, past and present, with some who have allowed me an up-close and personal view on what is so distasteful about the business of politics and crystallized why it is so important to have good people run. If you have not served in the military, or you are not a teacher in a public school, you should run for office. It is about service. I don't regret my decision to run or a minute of my service. But I am done -- now it is your turn."

•••

A familiar face and an outstanding citizen is gone.

Jere Richardson, 85, of Columbus died Saturday.

When Columbus Technical College began in 1961 with 36 students, Richardson was its director. It was then known as Columbus Area Vocational-Technical School and was operated by the Muscogee County School District. Richardson, a Navy veteran of World War II, came to Columbus in 1951 to teach at Baker High School and ended up administrator for all vocational programs offered by the school district.

"We had some very good students, people who run successful businesses here today," he said, proudly, of Columbus Tech's beginning in a 2006 interview.

He was an early advocate of vocational training as a "necessary part of public education."

Richardson is probably more well known for efforts away from school. Beginning in 1984, he served for more than 25 years as a poll worker and was the longtime precinct manager at Reese Road School where he greeted everyone with a smile and conversation.

He was active in the Muscogee Rotary Club and once received a pin for 39 years of perfect attendance.

Richardson, a Berry College graduate, grew up around a sawmill his father owned and was appreciated around the area for his attractive woodwork. He created bowls, ornaments, pens, etc. He called woodwork "addictive."

What he enjoyed as much as anything, Richardson once said, was being a member of the Columbus Woodworkers Guild and making toys for the Salvation Army and

providing pieces for bird houses that children at the Valley Rescue Mission's Camp Joy would put together.

Richardson will be missed by many.

•••

Talk about opposite spectrums of music -- and life.

This summer, concert fans in the Columbus-Phenix City area, within the span of one week, will have the chance to see and hear one of the fastest rising bands in country music, followed by the farewell tour of a country legend.

You see, The Band Perry, a pop-flavored country band fronted by Kimberly Perry and her two younger brothers, Reid and Neil, will headline the 14th annual Denim and Diamonds concert fundraiser for Columbus Hospice. That's June 22, a Saturday night, at the Columbus Civic Center.

Then, on June 29, none other than George Jones will make his final appearance in Columbus, also at the Civic Center, on what has been dubbed, "The Grand Tour," a nod to one of his hits, according to Nashville, Tenn.-based public relations firm, Webster & Associates.

Think about this: The 81-year-old Jones, known as "The Possum," had his first No. 1 hit, "White Lightning," in 1958. There would be a long string of Top 10 hits into the 1980s.

Meanwhile, The Band Perry, all of the members in their 20s, signed their big record deal not even four years ago, with the somber ballad, "If I Die Young," quickly topping the country chart. "Better Dig Two" is their most recent No. 1, with the group's popularity only appearing to grow in an iTunes and iPod world.

The dilemma: Should you take in both shows? If so, brace yourself for a musical history lesson.

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