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Chattahoochee Chatter: My. how times have changed

It is Thursday, so it must be Chatter.

As we march into the dog days of summer -- even though the 63-degree wake-up call on Wednesday didn't feel much like the end of July -- we are starting to see something different in downtown Columbus. More and more visitors.

One of our reporters was stopped three times a week ago -- once while walking, once at an ATM and once getting into his car -- and asked where to eat downtown. And the out-of-towners also wanted to know where the whitewater course was. All three of those seeking directions were from the metro Atlanta area.

It looks like folks in Atlanta have finally discovered Columbus.

When one of the visitors, just in front of the Chattahoochee River Club on Bay Avenue, was told they were 100 yards from the rapids, all they could say was, "Really?" What a change.

Twenty years ago, people asking for directions in downtown Columbus were trying to figure out how to get out as quick as they could.

If you're driving around Chatterland -- or walking through your neighborhood for that matter -- and spot someone intentionally setting a fire, the Georgia Department of Insurance says it has a deal for you.

A cool reward of up to $10,000 is being offered to those who leave a tip on the agency's arson hotline, if their information leads to the arrest and conviction of the alleged fire bug. The toll-free number is 1-800-282-5804.

Insurance and Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens said those leaving the tips and, ultimately, receiving the rewards can do so anonymously. And should you think the Georgia Arson Control Board doesn't put its money where its mouth is, consider this: Since launching in 1979, it has paid out just over $1.6 million in rewards to 560 tipsters. That's an average of nearly $2,900 apiece.

The agency also said arsonists caused $1.68 million in property damage in Georgia in 2013.

Wednesday, a gentleman in a pickup truck parked in front of the L-E and hurriedly got out. He left his door open as he walked across the sidewalk, looked around -- seemingly to make sure nobody was noticing -- and grabbed a Her magazine from the pink box. After he just as quickly got back in his truck, he must have thought he accomplished his mission undetected.

We not only applaud his courage, but we want him and all the other Chattahoochee Valley men to know that y'all really are welcome to read Her magazine -- even if you say you just are picking up a copy for your wife.