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Blackwood: Beautiful girls, batons and a side bet on high school football championship
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This is one of those columns to clear a few notes from my desk.

First, thank you to each of you who gave me advice on where to find batons. I am fully equipped for the holidays. I have a baton that came anonymously, and I thank whomever brought that.

There are some days you write this stuff and wonder if anyone is reading it. I won’t be thinking that for a while.

Side bet on Saturday’s game

I have thrown down the gauntlet and challenged the esteemed publisher of The Cairo Messenger to a little wager over the outcome of the state championship game between Flowery Branch and Cairo.

Randy Wind is a friend of mine, and I reached him Tuesday morning in his office in the Cairo Messenger Tower, there in Cairo.

The bet is this: The writer in the losing town has to write a glowing column about the winning town that will appear in both papers next week.

A word to all Falcons: I have it on good authority that my friend from Cairo is already doing research about Flowery Branch, so he can say some really nice things about you to his readers in South Georgia. Don’t let me down.

Second Grammy try

My friend Bruce Burch sent me a note to tell me that Karen Peck and New River have picked up a second Grammy nomination for their album "Ephesians One." They were nominated in the best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel album. When it comes to singing, North Hall native Karen Peck is one of the best, and I hope there is a Grammy award sitting on her shelf after Feb. 9.

Remembering Mac Barber

There is a common thread to the tributes to Mac Barber — he was different. Barber, who served two stints on the Georgia Public Service Commission, died Sunday at the age of 91.

During my early days in this business, I was among a group of struggling young reporters trying to make ends meet. It was widely known that if you couldn’t pay your light bill or phone bill on time, you could call Mac and he’d somehow keep you from getting cut off. He did it for anyone.

By the next week or so, you’d catch up with payment and all was well.

Mac Barber may have been the nicest person ever on the telephone. "Let me help you with that," he would say, as if he had nothing else to do. He would end the call by saying "It’s so very good to talk to you .... and bye."

I know the folks at the various utilities probably hated to hear from old Mac, but he was truly a man of the people. Mac was the Oldsmobile or Plymouth of politicians. They don’t make ’em anymore.

Tears of happiness

I don’t know if Jack Frost cries at funerals, but he was on the verge of tears Sunday at the opening of the new Memorial Park Riverside Chapel. Frost, who has been in the funeral home and cemetery business for 50 years, may have had his finest hour in the opening of the new facility.

It is a beautiful place, and a crowd turned out for the dedication service.

We have some good folks in the funeral business in our town, and they provide an important service to our community.

The Belle of the Ball

This Saturday night, the Junior League will crown one of six young women as the Belle of the 57th annual Charity Ball. The belle is the one who raises the most money for the great charities supported by the league. There are six beautiful ladies vying for the title. I’m honored to be the daddy of one of them. They are Ashton Blackwood, Rachel Bond, Mary London Carswell, Savannah Hodge, Emilie Norton and Suzanne Zoller.

If you know one of these girls, consider making a tax deductible contribution in their name to the Junior League by the end of the week. You can call 770-535-1951 for more information.

Harris Blackwood is community editor of The Times. His columns appear Wednesdays and Sundays. He can be reached at 770-718-3423.