Chattahoochee Chatter: A full-time effort

December 11, 2013 

Let's start the Chatter across the river.

Sure, his title is interim superintendent, but at his initial meeting with the Phenix City Board of Education last week, Rod Hinton put full-time effort into leading his hometown's school system.

Board members were transfixed for more than 1 hour as Hinton went uninterrupted through a PowerPoint presentation outlining his vision.

The former Phenix City educator and retired executive from the W.C. Bradley Co., Russell Athletics and Realtree shared lessons from a diverse group of folks, including those atthe national level (Lyndon Johnson and Malcolm Gladwell) and the local level (Clifford Smith, Jeff Adams and Cordelia Moffett).

And he showed he has an open mind when he declared his allegiance to Auburn but praised Nick Saban along with Gus Malzahn.

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Back on this side of the river, another school board gave us a Chatter item Monday, when students from Gentian Elementary performed their rendition of "The 12 Days of Christmas" before the Muscogee County School Board meeting.

In their version, the students sang about a feast they yearned for at school. The lines that drew the biggest reactions from the crowd were "five fruit cakes" and "10 Alka-Seltzers."

They earned a standing ovation.

Folks could have used some of those Alka-Seltzers when they saw the video that was approved to show all faculty and staff, as well as high school students, for training in case a shooter invades their building.

The video was so graphic and emotionally intense, at-large board member Cathy Williams asked that it not be shown on the public access TV channel when the meeting's replay is aired. She suggested the monthly list of donors should be scrolled during that time instead.

Nonetheless, the board approved the video by an 8-1 vote. Beth Harris of District 8 was the lone opposition.

"It was good drama, but it was not realistic," Harris said. "I cannot support it."

Board chairman Rob Varner of District 5 said, "I found it horrifically realistic."

MCSD Risk Management, the Shaw High School Mass Communication Magnet and the Columbus State University Communication Department produced the video, funded by $7,000 grant from the John P. and Dorothy S. Illges Foundation.

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A meeting of another governing body, this one the Muscogee County Library Board, was the scene for a Chatter item last week, when the hero of transparency, board member Owen Ditchfield, noted the minutes of the meetings don't distinguish between the absent members who called ahead to explain why they wouldn't attend and the members who simply didn't show up.

As we applaud Ditchfield for another brave example of speaking out in the public's interest, we wonder how many Christmas cards he'll receive from his fellow library board members this year.

Ho, ho, ho!

•••

A fitting place to end this week's Chatter is on post.

And, it's going to look like Christmas today at Riverside, the quarters for Fort Benning commander Maj. Gen. H. R. McMaster and wife, Katie.

They are hosting a holiday welcome for VIPs at 100 Vibbert Ave. from 5 p.m. to 7:45 p.m. Santa Claus will greet old and new friends to Fort Benning on the lawn.

There also will be face painting for the children, a stilt walker and door prizes.

Sounds like a great way to start the two-week countdown to Christmas.

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