Fun for People, Pets at “Bark in the Park”

columbus ga dog friendlyIf dogs could write, you could be sure that quality time with their favorite human and outdoor play would top their list of favorite things to do. On Saturday, August 31 they can enjoy both–and more–during “Bark in the Park” at F.D.R. State Park in Pine Mountain. It’s an afternoon filled with helpful tips, contests, exercise, freebies and fellowship with folks who love man’s best friend just as much as you do.

Activities start at 5pm next to the park’s Trading Post in the campground area. A professional trainer will be on hand to give advice and answer questions about canine behavior. A veterinarian will also be there to discuss common health issues, including dietary and fitness strategies for pups carrying a few extra pounds. Don’t forget to pack some creative doggie duds for the event, and have your four-legged kid practice his or her signature stunts. The Dog Summer Costume Parade and Best Trick Contest take place at 6:30pm. Nice prizes are up for grabs and the entry fee is only two bucks. At 7pm, everyone hits the trail for a one-mile guided “forest romp” through the park’s scenic surroundings.

For those new to the area, F.D.R. State Park is just off US Highway 27 North on GA Highway 190 East in Pine Mountain, Georgia, around 30-45 minutes from Columbus. You can call the park office at 706-663-4858 for more information or visit There is a $5 park pass fee for each vehicle. Remember to pack those doggie road trip essentials like water, refuse bags, leashes, tags and the like. “Bark in the Park” is sponsored by Valley Veterinary Associates, Big Bear Canine Activity Center and PetSmart of Columbus.

Tax Holidays Stretch Back-to-School Bucks


That’s the sound you’ll hear in family households throughout the region as parents tally those expenses for another school year. The list of needs never seems to be short, and prices are higher for almost everything these days. But here’s a bit of good news: Georgia and Alabama are both holding tax-free weekends to help take the edge off some of those school-related purchases.

Columbus and Fort Benning shoppers can get an early start with a short drive to Phenix City or Auburn/Opelika. Alabama’s sales tax holiday starts at 12:01am on Friday, August 2 and continues through Sunday, August 4. Tax exempt items include clothing items priced at $100 or less, school and art supplies $50 or less, and computers, software and school computer supplies as a single purchase up to $750. MortgageAdditional details are available on the Alabama Department of Revenue website.
The following weekend (August 8-9), Georgia holds its holiday. Shoppers save tax money on clothing items not exceeding $100, school supplies $20 and under, along with computers and accessories up to $1,000. The Georgia Department of Revenue provides more information on their website. The annual tax holiday was introduced over a decade ago but discontinued from 2009-2011 due to tight state budgets. With over one million kids expected to start school across Georgia, estimates indicate that families will save around $10 million during the two-day respite.

Buying without sales taxes is helpful, and savvy shopping can make good deals even better. Check those newspaper inserts and TV ads for sales and promotions. Look for unadvertised specials inside the stores. If you have a coupon stash, do a quick review for clothes and other school goods. Looking for popular items? Other folks are too, so start early if there’s something special on your list.

School expenses can take a bite out of the family budget, so any kind of a break is welcome news. Thanks to sales tax holidays in Georgia and Alabama, parents can get a little more bang for their back-to-school bucks.

Monument to be dedicated in Fort Benning Thursday for 4th Infantry Division

Fort Benning will soon construct a new monument to honor past and future veterans and family members of the 4th Infantry Division.

The monument will be dedicated at The National Infantry Museum on Thursday – July 18, 2013 and the event will begin at 1:30 p.m. The event will be had at the stadium behind the museum.  Spectators may park in the museum parking lot and walk over to the event.

Guest speaker at the dedication will be United States Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.  Odierno served as the Commanding General of the 4th Infantry Division during its initial deployment to Iraq in 2003.

This division was responsible for the search and capture of Saddam Hussein.

Others attending the dedication will include former SSG Clint Romesha, The 4th Infantry’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient. The Medal of Honor is the military’s highest award.  He received this honor for his actions in Afghanistan in October 2009, during a deadly ambush on Combat Outpost Keating.  Eight American soldiers were killed during the attack when hundreds of enemies swarmed the base.

The dedication will also be held during the same time as the National 4th Infantry Division’s annual reunion, being held at Fort Benning this July 15-20.



Paula Deen said the N-Word

Does saying the N-word make you racist?

Southern television chef and personality Paula Deen has been in hot water recently after she admitted to using racial slurs in a court disposition. Since the incident her television show been dropped from the Food Network, her cookbooks dropped by Random House Publishing, and today it was announced retailers such as Kmart, Sears and Walgreens have decided to pull all of her products off the shelves.

According to a transcript of Deen’s deposition, an attorney asked Deen if she has ever used the N-word.

“Yes, of course,” Deen replied, though she added: “It’s been a very long time.” When asked to elaborate on the context she used the word she remarked it happened once when a black male held a gun to her head during a bank robbery.

Comedian Deon Cole brings about a good point: “Isn’t that when you’re supposed to say it?”

Deen’s assumed downfall has brought race back into the forefront of public discussion and reminds many of past, poor, race relations in the South.  However the connotation and use of the word “nigger” seems to have changed since the time of U.S. slavery.

Originally the word was meant to refer to black slaves – human beings that were only considered to be 3/5ths of a person.  Now the word is used differently.  African Americans often use the word as a term of endearment to each other, usually pronounced “nigga.”  White people often use the word to refer to a black person who commits crime, is considered dangerous or harmful to society.

When used in this context – by white people- it is often considered racist.  However the word’s meaning is universally understood.  To contrast, the term “white trash” is used to describe white people who commit crime, do drugs or are considered harmful to society.  Other races in American that use the term would not be considered racist. Maybe the difference between the two terms is that one word takes its root from slavery, however there is still a discrepancy.

The big debate here is why is this word so taboo and why does it automatically mark its user as a racist?  Paula Deen later apologized to the public but how much harm can a word really create? By many accounts, Deen is regarded as a good person who employees (and is friends with) many members of the black race.  Do actions outweigh words?  There is no universal way to measure how racist someone is.

Maybe the public should make a “Deen’s List” of every racist and non – racist act Paula Deen has ever committed.  Then the public could somehow weight how racist or non racist a person is.  Alas, even if we could there is no way to know how a person feels in their heart.

The N-word may be the ultimate curse word of our generation, which is part of its appeal.  If they NSA ever decides to listen into an Xbox live session of “Call of Duty” they could expect to hear the word shouted every time a gamer dies within the game.  Sometimes the goal of saying “nigger” aloud is simply the gratifying shock value it brings as the most taboo word in our culture.

My final question is why does anyone care what Paula Deen says?  She is a celebrity chef on the Food Network – famous for her doughnut burgers and ample use of butter.  We aren’t discussing someone that actually has a sway over public opinion or politics.  If you don’t agree with Paula Deen’s views, like her television show or even the way she talks – people can change the channel.

If anything it is rare to see a celebrity such as Deen answer a question of this type honestly.  We don’t have to agree with her actions but she should be commended for telling the truth.  Last time I checked America still has freedom of speech.  Her partners and fans certainly have the right to stop supporting Deen, but let’s not condemn someone solely for using a word we don’t agree with.


Super Moon

Super MoonTonight the moon will be closer to earth than any other time this year.   Which will create the largest brightest moon of the year!

Hopefully it will not be too cloudy to see it well tonight.  I will be watching for an opportunity for a great picture tonight.   If you happen to get a great picture, send it to me and I will post it here.

Check out more on the Super Moon

“Infantry Museum Holds First “Patriotic Fourth”

infantry museum“Thunder on the Hooch” has ended its 13-year run, but another group is poised to launch a new Fourth of July tradition for the region. The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center will host a full day of entertainment, food and family fun with a distinct All-American flavor.

“A Patriotic Fourth” kicks off at 11am on Thursday, July 4 with live performances of ceremonial, rock and Latin music by the Maneuver Center of Excellence Bands. Country singer/songwriter Tim Maggart takes the stage at 2pm, backed by the Neal Lucas Band. Maggart, an Army veteran who was stationed at Fort Benning, will also debut the video for his latest release, “A Link (in the Chain of Freedom).” Footage for the video was taped at the Infantry Museum. Local bands Lady Jayne and Cedar Creek round out the musical entertainment.

Reenactors will man a Civil War exhibit on display exclusively for the event and provide some old-school “fireworks” by firing a pair of cannons each hour. The World War II Company Street and Memorial Walk of Fame will be open for guests to take self-guided tours. Inside the IMAX Theater, historic newsreels, period cartoons and the Tim Maggart music video will be showing on the state-of-the-art screen. Pint-size patriots can enjoy a “bounce house,” face painting and other kid-friendly activities.

 Vendors will be on site serving Fourth of July fare like barbecue plates, hot dogs and ice cream. The Fife and Drum restaurant and IMAX concession stand will also be open. The action wraps up at 5pm, giving guests ample time to head toward Phenix City for the amphitheatre concert and fireworks display. “Patriotic Fourth” sponsors include Aflac, The Amos-Cheves Foundation, Global Payments, TSYS, W.C. Bradley, Jay Auto, The Hughston Clinic and St. Francis Hospital: WTVM serves as media sponsor.

Toys for Big Boys at Civic Center

Big Boy Toys in Columbus GaHere’s a little something you might not know about dear old dad. Beneath that grownup surface is an inner boy who wants to come out and play. Guys don’t outgrow toys, they just choose cooler playthings. Want to see the family patriarch become a kid in a candy store? Treat him to the Big Boy Toys Father’s Day Extravaganza Saturday, June 15 from 11am to 6pm at the Columbus Civic Center.

The event is billed as “the area’s largest sporting and outdoor expo” and promises enough action to satisfy even the shortest attention spans. Custom cars, trucks and motorcycles, those universal man-magnets, will be on display. Sportsmen can check out the latest gear for hunting, fishing, water sports and other outdoor play. Behind the Civic Center, zip line rides across the Chattahoochee and drag boat demonstrations promise to get the adrenaline pumping. Gadget-loving guys will gravitate toward the games, HD entertainment centers and “gotta-have-one” devices featured during the show.

Of course, a full day of looking and doing is bound to work up an appetite. Food and drink vendors, including some of Atlanta’s most popular food trucks, will be on site and ready to serve. While the expo has a distinct male focus, there will be a play area for kids and a special section devoted to fashion, jewelry and other ladies’ interests. Advance tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for military and first responders, $5 for kids age 4-12 and can be purchased at Publix, the Civic Center box office or through Ticketmaster (add $2 for day of day of show ticket buys). Proceeds will benefit the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School Alumni and the Columbus Firefighters Association.

The Big Boy Toys Father’s Day Extravaganza lets you honor dad with a Saturday full of  things he’s sure to enjoy more than, say, working his way down the “honey-do” list. And, no doubt, it will be a bigger hit than those well-intentioned necktie gifts he buried in back of the closet.

River City Rush” More Than a Flash in the Pan

Kayaking in Columbus Ga       In case you haven’t heard – the world’s largest urban whitewater course is open for business and adding an exciting new dimension to Uptown Columbus. After years of planning, adjustments to the river and an aggressive marketing campaign, “The River City Rush” is up and running. To paraphrase the classic line from the film “Field of Dreams,” the course is built…but will they come? Odds are, they will. More than a few. And more than once.
Let’s start with pricing. Initially, two outfitters were sanctioned by Uptown Columbus, Inc. to provide excursions on the 2.5-mile course, with prices set at $80 per person for the high-water trip and $50 for the tamer trek. In early May, North Carolina-based outfitter Nantahala Outdoor Center pulled up stakes, leaving Atlanta’s Whitewater Express as the sole service provider. The company immediately lowered the cost to $48.50 for the big ride and $32.50 for a more casual rush. “We like volume,” says Whitewater Express president Dan Gilbert. “We like to get people out there and enjoy the experience, that’s what’s important to us.” In today’s economy, affordability is a big draw. First-timers have added incentive to give the course a try. Seasoned riders have more reason to become frequent fliers.
Location and climate also work in our favor. Columbus is well placed and easy to reach. Enthusiasts from Florida, North Georgia, Alabama and other Southeastern states can enjoy a weekend break or extended stay with minimal travel. Folks living farther away, especially those above the Mason-Dixon Line, will most likely jump at the chance for an outdoor adventure enhanced by warm temps and Southern hospitality. And it almost goes without saying that, for the most part, our region’s weather is a definite plus. Aside from those occasional early-year cold snaps, there are plenty of fall and winter days wide open for outdoor play. “Here, the (whitewater) season almost doesn’t end,” Gilbert says. “We’ll be running the river into November easily. We’re open year-round, and we may run year-round.”
Whitewater rafting is off to a flying start, and more is yet to come. A zip line will be part of the course sometime this fall. Whitewater Express and The Outside World Outfitters, a specialty store in Uptown Columbus, plan to offer kayaking clinics and other classes. Word is spreading well beyond the region, including a positive review in “Men’s Journal” magazine. By all indications, the $24.4 million “River City Rush” is looking like a sound investment with a solid future.

Hollywood Blockbuster Currently Filming in Columbus, Ga.

Need for Speed filming in Columbus

Filming for a major, big-budget, Hollywood movie is currently underway here in Columbus on the 13th Street bridge, which will be closed for a few days for the project.

The movie will feature stars Imogen Poots and Aaron Paul, known for his role on the hit AMC show “Breaking Bad” as Jesse Pinkman – a bad boy drug dealer who works with an ex science teacher to produce meth.

Need For Speed is one of the most recent of Hollywood’s video game- movie remakes.  The games were known for their high octane, car chasing fun and the movie should be no different.  Residents can expect to see many of the movie’s car chase scenes along common sights such as Manchester Expressway and Interstate 185.

There are no designated watching areas for the curious, but you may be able to watch some of the production from the downtown area.  The 13th street bridge will actually be portrayed as a bridge in rural New York in the movie, according to the production team. The scene filmed here is said to be part of the climatic finish of the movie.

While the city of Columbus will not be paid for the movie’s use of the bridge, city officials say they will benefit in tax revenue.  They also expect the large crew of over 200 to benefit the local community by renting local hotels and eating at local restaurants.

Need For Speed is expected to open in March of next year. Nfs-logo

13th Street Bridge Closes for Movie Shoot

new front-8Those using the 13th Street Bridge for daily travel may want to consider alternate routes from Tuesday. June 4 to Saturday, June 8. The bridge is being reserved so a high-end sports car can do a high-dive into the Chattahoochee River.
A case of outrageously bad driving? To the contrary, seasoned pros will coordinate the stunt as part of “Need for Speed,” a new film starring Michael Keaton, Dominic Cooper and Aaron Paul. Billed as a “racing action movie” and based on the popular video game, it is scheduled for release early next year. According to Patrick Mignano of NFS Productions/Dreamworks Studios, the bridge scene features a sports car that spins, then flips over the rails and into the river. He says four days are needed to complete the 15-20 second sequence because “everything’s got to be controlled. Everything has to be precise.”
City officials and other organizations are preparing for the temporary closure of the 13 th Street Bridge, one of four routes connecting Columbus with Phenix City. Police will be posted at major intersections during peak traffic times: Uptown Columbus and the Chamber of Commerce are providing updated information to members and major employers. Commuters in the north Columbus and Phenix City areas should use the J.R. Allen Parkway. For those on the south side of the cities, the Oglethorpe Bridge/U.S. 280 route would be the best bet. The River City Rush will remain open, but boaters may experience delays during filming. Most would agree that a short wait is preferrable to sharing their kayak with a car.
Additional “Need for Speed” scenes will be filmed on Interstate 185 and Manchester Expressway.  Production personnel will coordinate activities with the Georgia Department of Transportation and no road closures are planned. 13th Street will remain open on both sides of the river during bridge filming, but the section of Third Avenue between 13th and 14th Streets in Phenix City will be reserved from June 1 through 8 for equipment and staging. Around 200 crew members will be in town to work on the segments.
Will “Need for Speed” launch a franchise that rivals the “Fast and Furious” series? Time (and ticket sales) will tell. In the meantime, Columbus can lay claim to a piece of the action flick, even though the city will be serving as a “stunt double” for rural New York. With Georgia ranked as one of the top five U.S. states for TV and film production, there’s potential for future projects to land in our backyard…or plunge from one of our bridges.