It's an exciting time for Fort Benning
The BRAC Realignment has just been finalized so now Columbus, Phenix City and surrounding areas are in full swing preparing for all the new people the realignment is going to bring.
School officials are planning trips to Washington to see about getting more money for the impact the realignment is going to have on all area schools.
As you drive around in our communities, you will notice a lot of new construction. New homes and homes in good condition are not staying on the market very long. Values are going up quickly. Alot of this is in response to the BRAC Realignment.
Not only, are we getting almost 10,000 new jobs due to the BRAC Realignment--Aflac just announced they will be hiring 2,000 people over the next few years. New businesses are opening up in Columbus and Phenix City. Work is beginning on Phenix City side of the Chattahoochee River.
It's an exciting place to live right now-you never know what will happen next.
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Show of support
Public, leaders say thank you to soldiers, Fort Benning
Not all of Saturday's protests were held near the gates of Fort Benning.
A huge one was at South Commons.
"We're protesting terrorism," Jack Tidwell told a large gathering outside the Columbus Civic Center. Looking at a large group of soldiers in front of the stage on which he was standing, the Columbus doctor said, "we appreciate your heart and ability and we support your right to protest."
Tidwell and his wife, Eve, are the founders of "God Bless Fort Benning," a celebration which drew approximately 25,000 people, event officials and police said. The crowd included 3,300 soldiers from Fort Benning.
He called the event "mixing pleasure with business."
Another speaker, state Sen. Seth Harp, recalled his time in the military. After graduation from Auburn University in 1966, he joined the Marines. He was sent to Vietnam.
"When I went, I was encouraged to wear my uniform," he said. "When I came back a year later, I was encouraged not to wear it."
He explained that was because of the many voices of dissent that had sprung up.
He said those voices "were wrong then and they are wrong now."
Harp then told the soldiers that the people of the SOA Watch who have come to protest the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation at Fort Benning can do so because of them. The freedom of speech as well as freedom of the press and freedom of religion, he said, was "because of sacrifices made by young men and women like you. I thank you."
Columbus Mayor Bob Poydasheff said he was upset by the suggestion that America should "cut and run" meaning a withdrawal from Iraq.
"We don't quit until we complete the mission," he said, the crowd cheering.
Addressing the soldiers, Poydasheff said, "our soldiers are the greatest thing we've got going for us. As long as I live, every fiber in my body will sing your praises."
Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, Fort Benning's commanding general, thanked everyone for coming to show support. He asked those who were non-military to "hug a soldier to thank them for the work they do."
It wasn't all dignitaries who felt strongly about the need to be there.
Dave Smith, 52, does home improvement work. Saturday, the Columbus man was admiring the Budweiser Clydesdales, which were one of many attractions including the Silver Wings Parachute Team, 200 motorcyclists, rock band Lakeside and country singer Tracy Lawrence of Arkansas.
"So many in this country are speaking out against our efforts in this war," he said. "They attack our president, the commander of the armed services. You can't separate the troops and their mission and their leader. These soldiers need to know we're behind them."
There was plenty to keep those in attendance busy. Several local choirs, bands and dancers performed. There was a puppet show and a putting game for future golfers. Girl Scouts performed. There were helicopter rides and a Ferris Wheel.
Several booths were set up by local organizations such as the Valley Vipers football team, Oxbow Meadows and the Columbus Corvette Club.
Local restaurants were out in full force. Just a few were Mazzios, Moe's Southwest Grill, Rose's Caribbean and Fountain City Coffee.
Several churches took part. St. Luke United Methodist Church was handing out free slices of pie. Wynnbrook Baptist Church had cookies. It also had a volunteer Kae Taylor, 39, whose husband, LeGree, is serving in Iraq.
"As an Army wife, I really appreciate what is going on here today," she said. "When I tell my husband about this, I'm sure it will lift his spirits."