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Adele Elliott: Bridges of Lowndes County

 

Adele Elliott

 

"Bridge" is a versatile word, a chameleon. It can be a noun, or a verb, or even a complicated card game. 

 

In fairy tales, horrible trolls lurk in the shadows where bridge meets embankment. Crossing a bridge could mean a terror-filled ambush for innocent children and billy goats. 

 

Lately, there have been bridges of every sort in the Columbus news. 

 

Our Mayor and Kabir have kissed and made up, leading us to believe that their fight is just water under the you-know-what. 

 

Many people thought that this was a personal matter. All should be forgotten. I doubt if we will ever forget the embarrassment of seeing elected leaders'' mug shots in the papers. (Surely, none of those pilgrims noticed.) 

 

And, how could that scuffle be private? Two public servants, in City Hall, physically fighting over the use of a federal grant, can be nothing but public. We deserve so much more from them. Oh well, let''s hope this truce is sturdy. 

 

The City Council has decided that the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau should provide matching funds to spruce up the old bridge over the Tombigbee. This is a gutsy move that I plan to try myself. I will gather my debts and decide who should pay them. No matter if there is any basis for my choices. If I can''t convince my friends and neighbors to pay all of my bills, maybe they can be persuaded to pay one third. 

 

Truly, it is the function of a CVB to attract tourists to a destination. It is not their responsibility to construct the attractions. 

 

The figure of $400,000 is required. For what? No one has decided if the bridge even needs structural repairs. Perhaps only cosmetic work is required. Inquiring minds want to know. 

 

I actually like the idea of a charming place to stroll. I like it so much that a year or two ago I brought photos of a similar one, in another state, to Amber Murphree Brislin at her Main Street Columbus office. At that time, my suggestion was to offer sections of the bridge to our wonderful garden clubs. They could design and maintain plantings in pots and containers; a few benches would be a nice touch, too. 

 

Still, that does not alter the fact that this is a bridge to nowhere. Apparently, there are no plans to develop the island as a destination. (A bedroom community is not much of a draw.)  It could be delightful, with shops, cafes and art galleries. Of course, we will need more visitors to support these businesses. Now, that''s a job for the CVB. 

 

Right now, the other end of the bridge is a bit wild. There are rumors of crack and meth users skulking on the other side. Surely, we do not want to give them easier access to our families and tourists on an outing. 

 

Perhaps, what we need is a friendly game of bridge between all factions involved, especially those kings who wield the power. The outcome may prove who is really a troll and who is just a "dummy."

 

Adele Elliott, a New Orleans native, moved to Columbus after Hurricane Katrina.

 

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