Roses and thorns




Roses to the citizens of Columbus who have shown up at debates to educate themselves about city candidates before they make a decision.


At last Monday night''s candidate forum, hosted by the Columbus-Lowndes League of Voters, 0.16 percent of the city''s 18,497 voters were on hand to listen to the candidates square off. A meager 40 -- or 0.22 percent of the registered voters -- were at the Municipal Complex last Thursday for a second chance to see most of the candidates speak publicly, sponsored by Columbus-Lowndes Political Action Committee.


This past Thursday, about 45 people -- 0.24 percent -- were at the NAACP-sponsored forum, also at the Municipal Complex.



It''s important to know our elected officials'' stance on the issues we care about. It is even more important to know their stance before we vote them into office. On Page, 8A Today''s Dispatch contains quotes from the candidates'' talks at these three forums, along with sample ballots and a list of precincts open for voting Tuesday.


On Tuesday, when we go to mark our ballots at the primary, let''s be informed voters. After all, three of our six council seats will be decided before the June 2 general election.



Roses to Relay for Life teams and survivors, who made the rounds Friday night a week ago into Saturday morning to raise money for the American Cancer Society.


This year''s event was the biggest ever, with more than 65 teams participating. More than 3,000 people participated in this year''s event, raising more than $127,000.


Roses also go out to the participating cancer survivors, many of whom laced up their tennis shoes to also raise money for the cause. They''re an inspiration to us all and a testament that, you can''t just go over or around a barrier, you have to try to tear it down, so others might not have to face the same obstacle. Relay helps to just that, as it helps fund vital research and other programs of the ACS.



Rose to members of Starkville in Motion and other community members, who helped Henderson Ward Stewart students participate in "Walk to School Day," an effort to enjoy healthy activities and help keep the air a little cleaner.


SIM organized the Earth Day walk to Henderson Ward Stewart Elementary School. The walk began at J.L. King Park, and walkers had police escorts for the 15-minute walk to campus. Walking more helps keep us fit and means less car emissions in the air. Perhaps we could all consider a few more walk-to-school and/or work days.



A rose of congratulations to the Columbus East Lions Club, who on April 30, celebrated 50 years of helping people with vision and hearing problems.


In the last two years, more than 100 sight cases have been worked by the local club.


This year, thus far, there have been 134 applications. The club also has helped with community events such as Clean-up Columbus.


For more information about the Columbus East Lions or their services, visit



A bouquet of roses to our local Guardsmen -- assigned to Columbus and Starkville armories -- who left Friday to begin intense training for deployment to Iraq.


Starkville''s 2nd Battalion, 114th Field Artillery and Columbus'' Alpha Battery 2-114th Strike Battalion are members of the 155th Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Tupelo.


The entire team -- 3,400 soldiers -- reported to their units Friday morning to travel to Camp Shelby, near Hattiesburg, before heading to Iraq. The combat team previously deployed in January 2005 and returned in January 2006.


The Columbus unit''s family support group led community members in seeing their hometown heroes off to war.


Hundreds of people lined the street, as the soldiers pulled away via bus, to wish them well and a safe return.


The soldiers will train at Camp Shelby for about a month, before flying to northern Iraq, where they will be involved in security and convoy operations for a year.




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