But Buckhalter is Not An Officer
In the past, I’ve written many stories involving Columbus Mayor Robert Smith and his controlling ways when it comes to dealing with department heads in the city. In particular the public works department and the Columbus Police Department. While the fiasco that took place during the last city council meeting is a good example of his public works department micro-managing, helping his friend Glenda Buckhalter get hired as the CPD PR officer is an example of his meddling in police department affairs.
I certainly have nothing against Ms. Buckhalter. I met her during an appearance on a radio program I was assisting Scott Colom in last summer on WTWG AM 1050 radio. She’s a very nice lady and an intelligent lady as well. The problem I have with her being named CPD information officer is…she isn’t a police officer. In the past, those duties have been handled by CPD uniformed Officers Terrie Songer (most recently), Captain Fred Shelton, Corporal Donnie Elkin and Sgt. Rick Jones. And they all did an excellent job. Part of the reason they did such an excellent job would be because they are police officers talking about police department matters, which would require some knowledge of such matters, one would think. Ms. Buckhalter has no such experience in police matters (that I know of. RW). And if it’s a matter of just relaying information to the public and media from Columbus Police Chief Selvain McQueen, one would think that the chief could do that himself. Sources tell me that, contrary to what has been reported previously by some (including me. RW), McQueen is indeed well-schooled in releasing accurate information to the public and the media when it comes to police reports or public relation matters. Or even press releases. Of late, some errors have been a problem in some of the releases. Sources tell me that McQueen would never allow or make such errors.
I fully understand that an argument can be made that Chief McQueen wanted all uniformed officers on the streets, and he’s made that statement before. But the hiring of Buckhalter, especially at a time of tight budgets and arguments of whether they’ll be any police promotions in the near future, is extremely questionable, and especially because she’s not a police officer. The Columbus Police Department could have hired a uniformed officer in her place and made the department stronger in doing so. If there was enough money in the budget to hire Buckhalter, who by not being a uniformed officer is limited to office duties, the money would have been better spent by hiring an officer to help an overworked police force and its hard working, stressed officers. Another problem is Buckhalter’s radio show scheduled each weekday at 1 p.m. on WTWG. Though she periodically has someone fill in for her, she still does the show from time to time. This takes away from her ability to work her job full time as Columbus CPD PR officer.
I certainly hope Mayor Smith didn’t want Buckhalter hired to help influence her cousin, Bernard, who is a board member on the Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau. Money from the CCVB goes toward the annual mayor’s picnic as well as other activities the mayor is interested in. Speaking of Bernard Buckhalter, he was recently employed at the Starkville Wendy’s restaurant. He was placed on the CCVB board as representing the food and restaurant industry in Columbus. At the time, he was employed by the Hwy 45 Columbus Wendy’s. If he’s no longer employed by a Columbus restaurant, how can he be a representative of Columbus’ interest, making decisions about money that comes from Columbus and Lowndes County taxpayers?
Columbus/Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau Board
The March meeting of The CCVB board was scheduled to take place last Monday, March 19th, but was canceled because there wasn’t a quorum of board members available to make it legal. The board has 9 members, so 5 weren’t available. Reportedly, Dewitt Hicks had hip surgery, Whirllie Byrd had back troubles, Harvey Myrick was working, Rissa Lawrence and one other member was out of town. The next scheduled meeting of the board is on Monday, April 16th.
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith
District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith was recently elected to his second term of office back in November of last year. I’ve spent time covering the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors since the late 1990’s. Kept up with its politics even years before that. (No one has spent more time covering local politics and activity concerning governmental matters than Roger Larsen, Packet founder and former Publisher/Owner. After Roger would be Thom Geiger. RW). During my tenure covering supervisor meetings, I’ve seen a few supervisors come and go from District 4. But Jeff Smith has certainly proved to be a huge asset for his district. Observing him over the past few years, it could be said that it’s Smith’s demeanor that has helped calm the waters at Lowndes County Board of Supervisor meetings over the past few years.
Everyone remembers those stormy years at LCBOS meetings. Since being elected in 09′, Smith has been the driving force behind quieter, more civilized meetings. Mostly because he didn’t partake in the nonsense. Jeff Smith is a no-nonsense guy. When he talks, he doesn’t do it with deceit, he does so with dignity and intelligence and knowledge of the issues. If he doesn’t have knowledge of the issues, he schools himself on those issues, to become knowledgeable. Smith seems to despise silliness. He’s there to get things done for his constituents.
Monday in Crawford, Jeff Smith oversaw a community meeting that was conducted the way they should be conducted. No vicious outbreaks, no nonsense, no name-calling, no yelling amongst the public or other officials. Just an informative, civilized meeting that any elected official would be proud to participate in, as well as any citizen.
Supervisor Smith deserves my praise. He has been very impressive while holding elected office. I’m sure District 4 residents are proud.
Parks & Recreation Community Centers
The Crawford community meeting this past Monday was held in Crawford’s new Columbus/Lowndes County Parks & Recreation Authority Community Center. The recently built centers are all the same size, built equally. In addition to Crawford’s Community Center, new centers recently opened at Anderson Grove, Sims Scott, New Hope, East Columbus Gym, Townsend Park, Northaven Woods Park and Charles Brown Basketball Pavilion.
The new centers can be rented for various activities by the general public and each include a climate-controlled building with chairs and tables, a kitchen, bathrooms and other activity rooms. If you’re interested in renting the new community centers, you can contact the Columbus/Lowndes Recreation Authority at 662-327-4935. The centers can be rented by the public from 6 p.m. any weekday evening until 12 midnight. They can also be rented on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until midnight. Renters must pay $350 up front but will be credited back $100 of that money for a clean-up fee after a period of time if no clean-up is necessary by Parks & Rec.