HEART…………..yeah

 

 Heart

 That’s the only thing I can think of. There’s no other explanation.

 There’s no other explanation I can think of really. Either that or Superman does exist……and he has a brother…..a brother of another color.

 On 18 August the Flight of the Dove was held in Laurens County. They call it a bicycling event or a bicycle ride but if you ask the participants you get to the truth……..it’s a race. Walk around and talk to the competitors….uh participants….and that becomes clear. These folks are serious.

 And the distances involved are a bit overwhelming. Pick your poison……..thirty miles or sixty……on bicycles. Okay.

 This year Billy Pitts contacted me in the early Spring. He asked me to be involved in a special part of the Flight of the Dove. An orgainization called ‘Ride 2 Recovery’ wanted to participate. Ride 2 Recovery brings wounded soldiers to these bicycle races……….uh, sorry………events as a part of their therapy. Billy asked me if I could help with that part of Flight of the Dove.

 I, along with several others…..SSG Scot and Mrs Patti Canupp, Teresa Mahaffey plus Greg Alexander and Amanda Munion from the Chamber, set about finding a way to provide lodging and food for these soldiers while they were in Laurens County.

 The Hampton Inn and Suites gave us a sweetheart deal. VFW Post 3354 in Laurens stepped up to say they’d be happy to host a cook out. One local Patriot called me and volunteered to feed them all at Hickory Hills on the evening after the race. Without that kind of help I doubt we would have made it. Still, it was gonna take money. We set about attempting to raise the funds necessary.

 Now, all of the bills haven’t come in yet but……..I believe we made it. We at least came close. My thanks to everyone who helped out.

 On the morning of the race we watched our troops pull out. Among them was Specialist Payton. SPC Payton rode a 3 wheel cycle that he pedaled with his hands due to having lost his right leg in the service of his country. Staff Sergeant Rueben Pedro CHOSE to ride the same kind of cycle. He didn’t have to but SPC Payton was his battle buddy. “If Payton has to do it….I have to do it. He will not do this alone.”

 Everyone left at 0800 and man, some of these folks were blinding fast. Less than three hours and a significant number of riders had already ridden sixty miles and were done.

 Our wonded warriors began to trickle in one and two at a time. By 2:00pm all of them were back. All except Payton and Pedro.

 Storms rolled in. Rain came down. Lightning flashed. Flight of the Dove officials came to me wanting the pair to quit due to the safety hazard. I asked. They said no.

 Up hills, around potholes, by pastures with curious cows, past barking and threatening dogs………they kept pushing. SSG Pdro’s cycle developed problems and started losing gears. He ended up with only one. Come on, there’s no shame in quitting now……you didn’t quit, the cycle did.

A brisk “Sir. No SIR” was the reply.

 Riding escort for the pair on a motorcycle was tiring. Watching them push through each obstacle was inspiring. There were honestly times when I was wiping tears.

 At ten minutes past five……….more than nine hours after the start, SPC Payton and Staff Sergeant Rueben Pedro, American Soldiers, pulled back into Presbyterian College.

 They finished last but they never quit. They endured much hardship but they never quit. Hardly anyone was left to see the moment but……..they never even considered quitting.

 Heart. That’s the only explanation.

 I still get a lump in my throat just telling you about it.

woof…WOOF-WOOF

Let me start this one by saying that I’m a big fan of free enterprise.  If you work hard and make lots of money……….good for you.  If you go into business for yourself and you make it big…….Congratulations!

 

Now that I have that out of the way let me speak to anyone who is considering getting a pet………a dog in particular.  Please don’t go someplace and buy a puppy.  I can get you a deal.

 

First of all, let me explain a little science to you.  We know through genetic science that the broader the gene pool, the healthier the population.  A narrow gene pool results in serious physical and mental health conditions.  We joke about people whose family tree doesn’t fork but, in reality, that isn’t funny.  People who come from situations like that have a much higher incidence of all sorts of problems.

 

The same is true in the dog world.   There is only one way to achieve a narrowly defined canine breed………in breeding.  You can assure your customers that all the puppies will look the same.   It’s also a safe bet that they will share physical and mental problems.  That’s why there are so many deaf Dalmatians.  Once a defect enters that narrow gene pool……it’s there and will never go away.

 

Mixed breed dogs may not have the ‘designer’ look but they’re much healthier.  They come from a broad gene pool generally and they have a better disposition and MUCH fewer inherited disorders.

 

I wish that Laurens County Animal Control operated a ‘No Kill’ shelter.  That is not the case.  So, while you’re heading up to Greenville to pay $200 for a puppy, those folks are tasked with killing another puppy. 

 

Now, that pup may not have designer looks but he’d be a happy, loyal friend.  He’d help you entertain and protect your children.  Men, if you have to work at night, you’ll come home to find that dog stretched out in the hall and you’ll know that nobody will approach your family without coming through him.  Please, consider adopting a beautiful, lovable mutt.

 

It’s not expensive.  The adoption fee is only $45 and that includes the cost of having your dog spayed or neutered as well as the first round of vaccinations at a local vet.  For that small price you’ll have a valued new member of your family and you’ll know that, most likely, you saved that dog that loves you.

 

And then do me one more favor:  Tell everyone where you got your dog.  There are tons of people who have no idea where our animal shelter is.  Help spread the word.  You’ll be doing a good deed.  If enough people know then maybe there will come a Friday that the folks at Animal Control can really enjoy.

 

Oh, I suppose I should tell you how to find the animal shelter.  It’s on the corner of Torrington Road and Mount Vernon Church Road.  It’s right across from the end of the runway at Laurens County Airport.  Here’s a map:  http://binged.it/ACSoLb

 

Now I’ll get off my soapbox.  Have a tail wagging, bow-wow week.

It’s a Matter of Respect

On Wednesday, 27 June, South Carolina’s Governor issued an order for all flags in the state to be flown at half mast beginning at sunrise on Thursday, 28 June.

The reason? On Thursday morning an aircraft was to land at Columbia Metropolitan Airport bearing precious cargo……..the bodies of two soldiers, SGT John Meador, II and 1LT Ryan Rawl, members of the 133rd Military Police Company, South Carolina Army National Guard. Another plane was scheduled to fly into Greenville-Spartanburg Airport on Friday morning with yet another Hero aboard….the body of Sergeant First Class Matthew Brad Thomas.

The order was to extend from sunrise Thursday until all services for all three Heroes were completed. It’s a matter of respect. It’s a symbol of mourning and grief. Among other messages sent by this display is a message to the families of the fallen. It says that the entire state acknowledges the sacrifice of their loved one, that we all hurt as they grieve a great loss.

So, what does it say when that order is ignored?

Now, I’ll give a pass to some. Perhaps not everyone had heard of the order. It was issued rather late on Wednesday afternoon. So, I waited until after 2:00pm on Thursday and then I took a little ride around Laurens County.

Flags controlled by the cities of Laurens and Clinton were at half mast and I was encouraged but various industries had their flags at full staff. I rode past my kid sister’s house. She had taken the time to dip the flag in her yard to show respect. It seemed that all of these businesses and industries could do it if she could.

The flag in front of the court facility in Laurens……..full staff. Same at the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office and I suppose all other county offices. That bothered me. Maybe they didn’t know but I would think that local governments would know. Laurens and Clinton knew. There was at least one exception: Laurens County EMS had their flags at half mast. Thanks guys.

As I rolled past the National Guard Armory near the Laurens County Airport I saw their flag at half mast and I thought how it must have felt for them to lower that flag, knowing they were doing so because some of their brothers in arms had fallen in battle.

And then I got to the Clinton National Guard Armory. Those soldiers, not very long ago, were in Afghanistan. They had soldiers wounded there. I knew their flag would be lowered.

It wasn’t. I couldn’t believe my eyes but there it was……….full staff. For these businesses and industries to not lower their flags is a sign of being uninformed and maybe lazy. I might even say that some of them just didn’t see the importance of complying with the Governor’s order.

But a South Carolina Army National Guard Armory? There is no question in my mind that by 2:00pm on Thursday they should have been informed of the order. I announced it several times on the air Thursday morning. And one would think that the National Guard would make certain that every armory got that memo.

Embarrassing. Embarrassing and profoundly disappointing. Like I said, it’s a matter of respect. Or disrepect.

Ain’t Gonna Tell Ya……..Ain’t Got To

 

Here I am on the side of the road. Parked directly behind me is a really sharp looking vehicle with flashing lights on it. There’s a logo on the door that indicates this is a South Carolina State Trooper. And so, it begins.

 

“License, Registration, Insurance information please” says the young trooper.

 

“Sorry. Can’t do that. It’s privileged information.” is my response.

 

“Excuse me?” says the trooper. “When a law enforcement officer requests that information you have no choice but to comply.”

 

“You mean, kinda like a subpoena from Congress?” I ask. “I’m envoking executive privilege. If I provide that information it will serve to make it impossible to accomplish my very important task.”

 

“And just what is you very important task?”

 

“Can’t tell ya……executive privilege.”

 

My question is………….do you think I could get away with that? Could you?

 

No…………didn’t think so.

Be Ye Not Discouraged……Vote!

 

I write this on the day before an election. Tomorrow is the day set aside for Republicans and Democrats to choose their nominees for the general election in November.

 

Only, this year there was a big monkey wrench tossed into the works and for a while there it didn’t look like there’d be an election at all. A case which originated in Lexington County came before the South Carolina Supreme Court. It alleged that not all candidates had been legally certified and should therefore be removed from the ballot.

 

The suit had been filed by some friends and former campaign workers of Senator Jake Knotts, Republican, of Lexington County. Why? Well, my guess is that ol’ Jakey thought he was about to take a whipping in the Republican Primary and wanted to avoid it….one way or another. He figured there was no way he could get more votes than his opponent so……..find a way to eliminate the opponent before the election.

 

The lawsuit centered on an act passed by the General Assembly in 1991 and entered into the South Carolina Code of Laws as Title Eight (Public Officers and Employees), Chapter Thirteen (Ethics, Government Accountability and Campaign Reform), Section 1356 (Filing of Statement of Economic Interest by Candidates for Public Office).

 

Nobody paid much attention to the legal action at first but the suit was on firm legal footing. That law plainly stated three things:

 

1. Each candidate must file a Statement of Economic Interest along with their Intention of Candidacy. Both forms must be filed with the same official and at the same time.

 

2. Party officials were expressly forbidden from accepting a candidate’s filing unless the filing was accompanied by the Statement of Economic Interest.

 

3. Incumbents were exempt. Since they are already public officials and they already have a requirement of an annual filing of a Statement of Economic Interest, they didn’t have to file it again.

 

The Supreme Court did what they had to do. They pointed out that the law was clear. And they pointed out that anyone who filed a Statement of Economic Interest on line was in violation of the statute. They did not file that statement with the same party official who accepted their candidacy filing.

 

Technology simpy outran legislation. The candidates were told to file on line because they were told to do so. Laurens County party leaders told them to because that’s what state party officials told THEM to do. And state party officials thought they were doing what the state wanted them to do.

 

And nobody checked to see if the law had been changed. It had not been. The Justices had no choice to make the decision they made. Add to that the decision by the Republican Party to try a sidestep maneuver that was characterized by one of the Justices as “creative but foolish” and we end up with candidates being removed from contention in the primary with less than a week before the polls opened.

 

The bottom line? It’s a mess. But it’s a one time mess……a temporary mess. Many of the candidates who were removed are working already to be included on the ballot in November with the petition process. If you’re asked, please sign their petition. They stuck their neck out and ran for office. It’s not their fault this happened. Sign it and give them the opportunity to be on the ballot in November. If you know you won’t be voting for them, sign it anyway. I think we all believe that voters should have a choice in November.

 

And don’t get disgusted by all of this and just drop out of the election process. No, go to the polls and vote for who you want. Who cares if it won’t be counted? You vote for who you want, now and in November.

 

Me……..I think I’ll move to Lexington County. I’d love the opportunity to vote for whoever ends up on the ballot opposite Jake Knotts.

Advice to the Graduates…….And Stuff

I write this on Graduation Day.  In fact, it’s about time for the ceremonies to commence.  I wonder what’s going through their minds.  It dawned on me that these young graduates have been told some things that may or may not be true.

 Since I was once young and am now old I thought I’d set the record straight for them.  So, what’s really true?

 THESE ARE THE BEST DAYS OF YOUR LIFE!

Oh, this is SO not true.  If you’re having a real bummer of a time, don’t worry…….this too shall pass. 

 I remember being told that and thinking…..’Really?  This is as good as it gets?’  It isn’t.  Out ahead of you there will be sunshine and rain.  There’ll be the joy of holding a baby, your baby, in your arms.  And there will be love.  Not the heart pounding sensation that seems like love……..no, the real stuff.  The kind of love that holds you while you cry or keeps your hair outta the toilet while you………well, you get the idea.

 YOUR PARENTS DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!

Again, not a true statement.  By the time you’re completely on your own with a job, maybe a mortgage and car payments and having to pay taxes, you’ll be amazed at how much Mom and Dad have learned.

 Part of what seems to divide you now is reality versus fantasy.  You know how you want the world to be…..and that’s okay but they know how it is.  Maybe they should just let you happily head down Fantasy Street and not say anything but forgive them for interjecting a bit of reality. 

 Now, if you have a dream that’s burning a hole in your brain…….don’t squash it.  You owe it to yourself and maybe to the whole world to explore that dream.  But listen to Mom and Dad too.  At least consider what they have to say.

 LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO SPEND IT WITH UGLY PEOPLE!

Funny thing about ugly……it sneaks up on ya.  I remember one girl in particular from my younger days.  At the time all the kids would hang out in the LaurensPlaza parking lot and this chic showed up one day in a bikini after a trip to the lake.

 All the guys went pretty much ape.  She was so beautiful.  I saw her the other day.  Spooky lookin’.  Don’t make fun of ugly people.  Karma is wicked.  Some of those ugly people seem to get better looking and some of the beautiful people will fall victim to the ugly stick.  God has a sense of humor.

 WHOEVER MAKES THE MOST MONEY WINS!

Money is nice.  You have to have it.  You gotta pay your bills.  And it’s okay to have nice things.  It’s nice to not have to worry about finances.

 But keep in mind something my GrandPa told me a long time ago………….”Sometimes money just costs too much”.

 He was right about that.  If you have to set your principles aside for it, don’t.  If it robs the time you spend with those you love, don’t.  If you have money and never feel good about who and what you are, the money is in control.  And this life ends.  At the end, money doesn’t count.  Live your life so that when you depart here there will be people who remember you and smile.  That counts.

 Okay, that’s about it.  I may think of more later but that’ll do for tonight. 

 Last piece of advice.  When you laugh, laugh hard.  When you sneeze, sneeze loud.  When you love, love forever.  And when you roll a firecracker under a police car…..run like hell.

Quit Your……..hmmmm……..Complaining

 

There is one thing about my hometown area I have never quite understood. Perhaps the same kind of thing occurs in other areas and I’m just not aware of it but I’m certainly aware of it around my hometown.

 

It seems that a whole lot of people are eager to point out the bad things that happen. Not just point it out but regale everyone they meet about it. Just over the past few weeks I’ve heard that the Laurens Police Department is inept and the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office is on the take….being paid by local drug dealers in exchange for looking the other way. I’ve heard that the Laurens County Hospital is so incompetent that being admitted there is tantamount to a death sentence and that the folks at Laurens County EMS don’t care about anything but running around wide open with lights and siren just to irritate people.

 

The really happy news about each of those statements is that they are completely untrue. Chief Robin Morse runs a pretty tight ship at the Laurens Police Department. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a more professionally run small town law enforcement agency……..anywhere. Catching bad guys isn’t easy. Gaining convictions is even more difficult.

 

But the men and women who work there take their jobs seriously. They provide effective and fair enforcement of the law. Are they perfect? No. Jesus doesn’t work there. Are they inept? Not at all.

 

Now, the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff has had his problems lately but he and his deputies are actively seeking the arrest and conviction of those involved in the drug trade. Trust me, I know some drug dealers. They don’t like ANYBODY who works for the Sheriff’s Office. They hide from them and fear them. And I honestly believe that if they were to offer a bribe, they’d go to jail for that too.

 

And the hospital. I’ve been a patient there and survived. My wife has been a patient there. She lived too.

 

In fact, when you’re really sick or really hurting ……that’s when what you really think comes to the surface. I was really hurt fairly recently and was taken to a hospital in another county. Things were kinda fuzzy but I remember asking where I was. When they told me I quickly replied……”Get me to Laurens”. I have confidence in them. Not because I think they’re nice people or they have cute nurses but because I’ve been there when dying was definitely an option and due to the care I received there I’m all gooder now.

 

And lastly, the folks at Laurens County EMS don’t care. They just like to irritate people with lights and siren.

 

Would you be irritated by those sirens if you knew that ambulance was on its way to your house? If it were your mother or your child who had a heart attack or had been seriously injured, would you be irritated then?

 

As for not caring……..just shut up. Medics sometimes joke around and generally have a really sick sense of humor. They have to do that. It’s either that or go crazy. Their world is a combination of dealing with people in desperate need of help that they fight to keep alive and also dealing with people who need nothing more than a swift kick in the ass.

 

On the same day they may be asked to treat an injured child who is bleeding and frightened and some worthless tax consumer who has a stuffy nose and just wants a ride to the hospital because they’re bored. And they have to treat both of them with respect and compassion. That’s easy with the injured kid. With the gal who has hay fever?………not so much.

 

And one more thing about those lights, those sirens. They’re SUPPOSED to irritate you. I’ll tell you how you can make them stop.

 

Pull to the right and come to a stop. Let them go by. You’ll be amazed at how quickly they’ll be gone. Because they really aren’t interested in staying behind you and aggravating you. They want AROUND you.

 

If you’re in the left lane and you wonder why they don’t just pass you in the right lane……..they can’t. They can’t because the law says YOU have to pull to the right. They will not pass you on the right because they’re staying out of your way. They just expect you to obey the law and pull to the right. If you ride in the left lane, they will too…..waiting for you to wise up and do what you’re supposed to. And while they’re waiting, the clock is ticking for someone with a medical emergency. Please……you can complain later. But get out of the way first.

 

Is this a perfect community? Nope. But if you think it’s really THAT bad…..there’s no barbed wire at the county line. You can leave. Honest.

You Did It………..Again

Without a lot of fanfare, you did it again. I had my doubts, I’ll admit that now…..but I should have known.

For three years now Tony and Joy Staton at Valvoline Express Care have asked WLBG to assist them with a food drive. They’re good folks and they just want to do everything within their power to make sure that none of our folks are hungry.

On Friday, December 9th, we arrived at Valvoline Express Care to broadcast Good Morning UpCountry live from that location. We knew that last year the community responded and the Baptist Crisis Center received 1,200 food items. There were boxes of rice dinners, cans of beans, spaghetti noodles and spaghetti sauce. Somebody even sent some jelly bean. We also raised a little of $700 in cash.

This year I thought it’d be difficult to match that. It’s not that times are tougher than they were last year. It’s just that our tough economic times have stayed with us. There are some promising things on the horizon but many of us look around and wonder when we’ll have more than promises. For several years now we’ve been struggling a bit. I thought that struggle may have begun to wear on our people to the point that we’d have to scale back.

It was my privilege to be there all day along with Reverend Anthony Sims, Wyatt Mattison, Emil Finley, and Bryan Bentley. We had some equipment issues that challenged us but found a way to overcome them. We presented the problem to the community of WLBG’s listeners. The Crisis Center needed food to provided to hungry families.

At the end of the day, there were 1,276 separate food items. Testament to the big hearts of you, our listeners, and the people of this community. God bless you for stepping up.

Oh, and many of you tossed money into our collection jar. Thank you. We didn’t know how much was there until the end. When it was counted it totalled $1,070. Well ahead of what we did last year.

Sometimes I fell like I ask for too much. From time to time needs are presented to me. Some of those needs you never know about…..we find ways to solve the problem with resources that already exist. But often, I present the issue to you. And that’s really all I do. You do the rest.

People have been thanking me lately for helping a soldier in need, or raising money for Rev. Sims Thanksgiving Dinner or for this food drive for the Crisis Center. Sorry, I didn’t do it. All I did was tell you about it, then sit back and watch the magic happen.

Thank you………again. God bless you for being the kind of people who will share…..even in tough times when maybe you don’t have as much as you’d like……you will share what you do have. I cannot begin to tell you how proud I am to be associated in even a small way with such big hearted people.

Obama’s Re-Election Campaign A Fundamental Change

 Pay attention. You may miss something important. President Obama’s re-election campaign has swung into high gear mobilizing thousands. Some of the campaigners have even been arrested. If you’re not paying attention, you just might miss it.

 

First, let’s review some of the prior statements of President Barack Hussein Obama. There have been the usual accusations of campaign promises that turned out to be just empty talk. He promised open, transparent was the word he used, government. He even went so far as to promise that everything associated with his new health care overhaul would be broadcast on C-Span.

 

Well, the CEO of C-Span reminded the President of that when their crews were shut out of virtually all meetings where the new health plan was being discussed. So, that was an empty promise. It sounded good but there was no way he was going to let the people hear those discussions. There was just too much there you might not have liked to hear. Better to bury it in 2,000 pages of a bill you would never read.

 

But one thing he said was that he wanted to fundamentally change America. People cheered. Some cheered without ever asking what was so wrong with the America we grew up in. Some cheered and never asked……….what kind of change? All they knew was that it was fundamental. Do you know what fundamental means?

 

Now that the campaign is under way in full strength there are some hints. Look at the protestors in the streets of New York and other major cities. Guess what they say their goal is? They say they want to fundamentally change America. Fancy that.

 

The President winks at them and says he’s proud of them. Nancy Pelosi says she’s in agreement with them. They’re the ‘real’ Americans we’re told.

 

Hmmmmmm……….one of them ‘used the bathroom’ through the open window of a police car. It was number two. There’s video of it if you’re so inclined. They’ve trashed New York. One Jewish man was assaulted by a few dozen of these real Americans and told he needs to take his ‘Jew boy ass’ to Israel and get out of this country.

 

Proud of them you say.

 

Hank Williams, Jr got in a lot of trouble last week for comparing President Obama to Hitler.

 

Where on Earth did he get an idea like that?

 

Catching the Universe Rhyming

 

On Saturday the Patriot Guard was staged in the parking lot of Bi-Lo in Clinton. We were there to escort the parents of Captain Kimberly Hampton to the Hall of Heroes Induction Ceremony at Clinton High School.

 

Kimberly Hampton, the first woman pilot in American military history to be killed in action, was shot down near Fallujah, Iraq on 02 JAN 04. She grew up in Easley and went to school at Presbyterian College where she was a star tennis player.

 

Kimberly’s parents have formed a relationship with the Patriot Guard. We honor the fallen and they appreciate that. But, we had never conducted an Honor Mission for Kimberly Hampton. She was killed over a year before the Patriot Guard came to be. That had bugged me for years. I wanted Kimberly to have her Honor Mission.

 

And so, when I learned that CPT Hampton would be inducted into the Laurens County Hall of Heroes, I determined to organize an Honor Mission of sorts for her. That’s how it came to be that we were there at Bi-Lo awaiting Dale and Ann Hampton on Saturday.

 

A lady who had come to buy groceries saw all those motorcycles and walked out to look at them. She asked what we were doing. When she was told why we were there………that we were riding for CPT Kimberly Hampton…….well, that’s when it started to get weird. For a moment I thought the lady was going to faint.

 

She had been in the United States Army, made a career of it in fact. She retired in 2005. Before she retired one of her duties was to serve as an escort for fallen soldiers. When an American soldier is killed in action tradition holds that they never be left alone. A fellow soldier is with them at all times until they are laid to rest. This lady performed that duty. And the last soldier that she brought home from overseas? Captain Kimberly Hampton.

 

She had retired and wanted to live in the South. She decided on South Carolina and picked Clinton. Then, she decided to go buy groceries at Bi-Lo on Saturday and became curious about all those motorcycles. Coincidence? No, I don’t think so. I told her I didn’t know if she needed it or if Mr. and Mrs. Hampton needed it but…….she was supposed to be there. There were hugs and tears as she met Kimberly’s Mother and explained her connection. On Saturday evening as Kimberly was inducted into the Hall of Heroes I was proud to see this lady smiling and occasionally wiping a tear away.

 

This volunteer job I have has it’s rewards. Immense rewards. No, the rewards cannot be exchanged for cash. They’re much more valuable than that.