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Chattahoochee Chatter: The value in family, community and diversity

As the Muscogee County School Board began its annual retreat Saturday, this time in the Cunningham Center for Leadership Development at Columbus State University, board chairman Rob Varner of District 5 reminded his fellow representatives, “We’re in a political campaign, a political season, but I hope that, at least for today, let’s set those very legitimate differences that we all have, set them aside and think about the children, because we have important work to do.

"The campaign will be over. What will be will be. But the work's going to continue on, regardless of the outcome. So from our standpoint, it's important for us to think beyond March the 17th, and let's think to a year or two or three years down the road for some of the decisions this board will have to make that will impact the lives of our children in our community. I just ask us to keep all that in mind."

Détente lasted about 25 minutes.

During a presentation from Muscogee County School District chief financial officer Theresa Thornton, District 8 representative Frank Myers, who is campaigning against the sales tax referendum, asked for a document that shows the school system's revenue streams over the past 10 years.

Board vice chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 said that information is in the CAFR, which is the comprehensive annual financial report.

Myers told Green, "If I had the CAFR, would I be asking the question?"

"That's what I'm trying to find out," Green said.

"Well, I'm talking to this lady," Myers said, referring to Thornton. "So let me just have a conversation with her."

"Yes, sir," Thornton said. "We can give you that."

By lunch time, Myers had left the retreat, which concluded around 2 p.m.

Asked why he left early, Myers told Chatterland in a text message, "I did not have an agenda until two days before the event. When we got the agenda, it was very sketchy. I went to the retreat to find out if they were going to talk about academic achievement and how to save these 10 failing schools. When I realized that was not going to happen, I decided there was a better use of my time elsewhere."

Asked where he went, Myers didn't say.

Look. We're not last in something. Not first, but not last.

A story by Ocean Malandra for Apartment List, an online apartment rental marketplace, lists the top 10 Georgia cities for families and Columbus comes in at No. 7 beating out Athens, Atlanta and Macon.

Finishing above Columbus were Roswell, Alpharetta, Smyrna, Sandy Springs, Marietta and Valdosta.

There was no information about where lower-ranked Georgia cities such as Albany, Savannah and Augusta would place.

The four factors considered were safety, school quality, housing cost and child friendliness,

It's a great effort to get more males of color to go to college. But it also could pay off with a visit from First Lady Michelle Obama -- if a student video is a success.

Columbus State University said Wednesday that more than 70 students from area high schools visited the university in late February to take part in the African American Male Initiative's "College Student for a Day" experience. CSU's Office of Diversity Programs and Services captured the day's events and submitted a video to the White House as part of the first lady's "Near-Peer Mentoring College Challenge." The challenge, a Reach Higher initiative, asks schools to share how they are making attending and completing college a reality for students. Video finalists just might earn a visit from Obama during this spring's commencement ceremony.

"We believe this event, along with our continuous outreach, will perpetuate the cycle of recruitment, retention and, most importantly, graduation for high school and college males," said Johniqua Williams, student development specialist for CSU's Office of Diversity Programs and Services. The video can be viewed on CSU's YouTube channel at http://youtu.be/n77wjbEnHKs.

And good luck with landing a visit to our beloved Chatterland from the nation's first lady.

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