Some random thoughts as we enter the Memorial Day weekend. Warning: Two of them are related to the Muscogee County School District, one is kind of related but really about whitewater, and one is a story about my dog.
First, a quick rhetorical question about Monday’s school board meeting: Is the last school board meeting of the school year full of excitement or what?
This time last year, the board rejected every one of Susan Andrews’ proposals for principal, which had already been vetted by a committee. This year, the board voted unanimously to close two schools.
I can’t wait to see what happens next year.
Here’s another question: Why has every school-age child in the area started summer break except for the children of Muscogee County?
Around here, the last day of school is always, at the latest, the Friday before Memorial Day. But this year, Muscogee County School District kids take a four-day Memorial Day weekend, then return to school for three more days, during which they’ll watch lots of movies and eat lots of pizza.
Who’s in charge of the schedule? Oh yeah, the same folks who are searching for a new superintendent.
Speaking of superintendents, last week I wrote about how John Phillips took estimates to Washington to try to get funding for BRAC. Maybe the reason the district didn’t get any funding was because the numbers were bogus.
Phillips estimated in 2008 that BRAC would bring 6,000 school children to the district. Today, the district has grown by, well, zero.
Around here, we’re understandably leery of estimates. Which brings us to America’s largest urban whitewater course, which opens today in Columbus.
A study by Columbus State University predicts that whitewater will bring $42 million, 700 jobs and 188,000 visitors each year to this area. It may take three to four years to get to this point.
Many people are skeptical of these figures. Personally, I’d be surprised if we hit these milestones. But these estimates are different from the school district’s bogus BRAC estimate. Those numbers had a major impact on infrastructure, the real estate market and the local workforce. They alter a community’s plans for the future. You get that wrong, and you get everything wrong. You can’t base them on wishful thinking.
When it comes to whitewater, I think we should shoot for the moon. The new course is cool, no doubt about it. People are going to travel here to try it out, no doubt about it. And to take advantage of this newfound tourism, some businesspeople are going to open some cool restaurants and shops, no doubt about it.
Columbus just became a more exciting place to live, no doubt about it. What we do with our new whitewater course and all this new excitement depends on us.
Now for the story about my dog.
Last weekend, I took a walk with my dog, Dexter, who by the way is named after the Ole Miss running back Dexter McCluster, not after the Showtime serial killer.
It was late in the evening and the street was dark. My birthday was the next day, and I was thinking how I really didn’t feel a year older. Really, I felt pretty good.
I was holding Dexter’s leash and looking down the street at the shadowy houses and treetops and above them the stars. That’s when Dexter saw a frog in the street and suddenly stopped and turned sideways.
I didn’t see this and just kept walking. Soon I was airborne and almost as soon I was planted in the middle of the street, looking up at the stars and realizing that asphalt has a pretty rough texture, especially when it’s embedded in your skin.
I had a few choice words for Dex. He just looked back and sniffed, as if to say, “Hey, you’re the one who ran into me.”
That night, in bed, I woke up every hour or so and noticed that something new was hurting: Ankle, neck, lower back.
I thought about what I’d learned. For one thing, you always feel pretty good right before you feel pretty bad.
And you should always keep your eye on the dog in front of you.
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everybody.