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Chattahoochee Chatter: Inmates get boats?

Did you know the Muscogee County Jail provides inmates with boats?

It's true, according to grand jury's report on a March 3 jail inspection, which in regard to overcrowding included this tidbit:

"The extra inmates that were in cells with others had to sleep in what is called a 'boat' in which they would flip over the sleeping platform and place the mattress inside."

That's true, said Sheriff's Commander Dane Collins, who runs the jail: "It's a temporary bed," he said, essentially a portable cot that's flat on the top.

Underneath that flat top is a hollow part, and inmates have learned they can flip the cot upside-down, put their personal papers or jail store goods in that hollow part and put the mattress on top of that.

That way they sleep atop their possessions, which perhaps is a good idea, when in the company of thieves.

"We're always overcrowded," Collins said, noting the jail designed for 1,069 inmates more often houses 1,125 to 1,150, and over the summer up to 1,200.

U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) was in Columbus Wednesday to talk with constituents, and he dropped by the Ledger-Enquirer offices off Broadway.

He said many folks in Georgia are worried about the Middle East. "The U.S. has long been feared for its strength and respected for its diplomacy," he said. "Today neither is true."

He also said he was fighting hard for veteran's benefits.

Another reason he was in town? To grab a scrambled dog at Dinglewood Pharmacy. "I'm a hot dog aficionado," he said.

Today in Chatterland, we congratulate our hometown duck -- we mean Aflac -- for being recognized recently as the 25th top brand out there.

The company, headquartered on Wynnton Road in Columbus, received that designation from the American City Business Journals and The Business Journals. And it rose from the 56th top brand a year ago.

Not too shabby, considering the corporate brands ahead of Aflac: Apple, Southwest Airlines, Amazon.com, Google, Citrix GoToMeeting, UPS, Samsung, Adobe, FedEx, Microsoft, Fidelity Investments, Intuit, LG, Dropbox.com, Staples, The UPS Store, Marriott Hotels, Visa Business Credit Card, FedEx Office, MasterCard, Intel, Visa, Capital One Bank and Hilton Garden Inn.

The top 25 brands, chosen out of more than 250, were selected from a nationwide survey of business owners and executives. Criteria included industry leadership, vision, ethical behavior, general popularity, good pricing and customer service.

"As a chief marketer, I am extremely pleased to see the Aflac brand sitting near the top of a ranking like this, especially since Aflac spends a fraction of the amount spent by others in the insurance indus

try for marketing and advertising," Michael Zuna, Aflac's chief marketing officer, said in a statement.

Let's just chalk this one up to a good day at the office for the hometown supplemental health and life insurer. And, once again, congratulations!

A Sound Off! item Tuesday complained about the SPLOST campaign signs Columbus residents still have in their yards two weeks after the March 17 referendum.

Well, that's nothing compared to the super-sized campaign sign overextending its stay across the Chattahoochee River.

At the corner of Dillingham and Broad streets in Phenix City, where Gary Head Realty has a For Sale sign, the empty lot still has a towering sign for Gary Head's campaign in Alabama House District 83 -- five months after the Russell County Republican Party chairman lost to incumbent Democratic state Rep. George Bandy, a Baptist minister from Opelika.

So a Chatterland scout called Head for an explanation Wednesday.

"I haven't gotten around to it," he said. "I didn't know it was such a big deal."

Nonetheless, he acknowledged, "I need to get it down right away."

Apparently, he doesn't need to. Russell County Probate Court Judge Alford Harden Jr. told Chatterland that he isn't familiar with any state or local law requiring Head to take down his sign. Because it's on private property and not on the public right-of-way, Harden said, the sign can stay up "until it rots down."

And that would make the sign more than Chatterlicious; it might be a target for Mike Owen, the L-E's intrepid Inquirer.

Or maybe the sign isn't up late at all. Maybe it actually is up a year early -- in advance of a rematch in 2016. After all, the sign doesn't denote a date for the election.

Alas, Head said he hasn't decided whether he will challenge Bandy again.

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