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Chattahoochee Chatter: Machines replace Library Cafe vendor

We're all worried that machines will one day leave us without jobs.

Well, this week in Chatterland, it happened.

Machines have replaced the independent vendor who provided snacks and drinks in the Library Cafe at the Columbus Public Library on Macon Road.

Marketing coordinator Tiffany Wilson said the vendor's contract was not renewed for the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year.

Three machines are in the Popular Materials Department, and the proceeds from purchases will benefit the Muscogee County Friends of Libraries.

To make room for the vending machines, new biographies were moved to another part of the room.

In a reorganization of the department, the CD collection, which the library's leadership team has deemed a waning format, has been relocated to the second floor.

This will allow the Teen Department, adjacent to Popular Materials, an expanded area for annual programming.

Public computers in Popular Materials will also be relocated to the second floor where reference librarians can more readily assist customer's computer needs.

But sometimes, we wonder if machines would be a better scenario

There has been a lot going on in Phenix City lately -- and not all of it has been good. At a council work session this week, a reporter asked Mayor Eddie Lowe how he was doing.

"Fine," he said with a smile. "I am not going to let anybody rent space in my head."

The U.S. military could use less rental space nowadays as they try to trim their infrastructure by thousands

Gary Jones is a retired U.S. Army colonel and former garrison commander at Fort Benning. So it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about strategic planning.

And he's convinced that, one way or another, the U.S. military as a whole will see fewer numbers in both people and bases in the coming years.

"Right now the Air Force is 19 percent excess infrastructure. The Army is 24 percent excess infrastructure. There's going to be some bases go away, some forts go away. So we have to make sure that we're presenting our best case," said Jones, executive vice president of military affairs with the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

The case that city and business leaders will be focusing on is why Fort Benning shouldn't lose up

to 10,767 military and civilian jobs by the year 2020. That's the so-called "worst-case scenario" locally from an Army assessment that hinges on how deep federal lawmakers and budget planners decide to cut a military that is downsizing from two expensive and costly wars -- including in human toll -- in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Jones, who helped Fort Benning avoid cuts in a similar troop downsizing in 2013, said the approach this time from a lobbying standpoint will be similar. It will be teaming up from a bi-state regional perspective and working with as many lawmakers as possible.

"We will always approach it in a realistic manner," he said. "It's going to take some time, some energy, some talent and some financing to put together the total approach that we need, because we have to pull together a team."

That's right. Just like fighting a war, it will take manpower and money to pull this battle off.

Speaking of battles, college football is right around the corner. We were reminded of this as soon as the U.S. lost to Belgium on Tuesday.

So, we'll leave you with this little rivalry snack

As he prepares to sell his Smiths Station home to move to Harris County, where he started Tuesday as the school district's superintendent, former Chattahoochee County superintendent Jimmy Martin must take care of a mighty special concern.

"My wife wants me to take down all my Auburn stuff," he said with a laugh, "so the house doesn't turn away Alabama fans."

When it comes to saving lives, members of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning know how important it is to give blood at the Sullivan Memorial Blood Center at Sand Hill.

Soldiers from the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion helped the local center provide 36 units of blood for distribution to armed forces overseas. The state of the art center collects blood to support the Armed Services Blood Program.

The center deals with collection and distribution worldwide to the armed forces.

To help the center meet its weekly mission of supplying blood to those in need, dozens of soldiers took part in blood drives over four Tuesdays, June 3, 10, 17 and 24.

Blood donated at the center is processed and distributed to soldiers who need it.

With a shelf life of 35 to 42 days, officials must continue to increase the blood supply.

For every pint of blood collected, it is broken down into life-saving red blood cells, platelets and plasma. In 2013, 9,000 units of blood were collected at the center to support soldiers.

The center is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You may walk in to donate or make an appointment by calling 706-544-0071.