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Blackwood: Walters is back on course with hole-in-one
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There are no signs of magic dust in Jim Walters’ golf bag. If there is any dust, it is because the clubs have not been used in about eight months.

So, imagine the look on the faces of his fellow golfers when Big Jim strode up to the first tee, took a swing and hit a hole-in-one.

Jim, as many of you know, has been fighting a battle with cancer and Sunday was his first trip to a golf course since he finished his treatments.

The hole-in-one was the third in his golfing career, but marked an incredible comeback from a serious illness.

He was playing at the Hammer’s Glen course over in Banks County where the first hole is nicknamed "The Bear."

Big Jim tamed The Bear in one smooth stroke. Way to go!

A walk in the tombstones

For my final class in this session of Brenau’s BULLI program, we made a field trip to Alta Vista Cemetery. Vince Evans, who is in charge of Alta Vista, is both tour guide and historian. He delighted my class with stories about some of the permanent guests at the cemetery.

He knows lots of interesting trivia, such as the grave marker with a Bible verse that doesn’t exist. A walk through Alta Vista is a walk through the history of Gainesville, and Vince has a wealth of information that should be chronicled for future generations.

At present, he is working on the application to place Alta Vista on the National Register of Historic Places. With a Confederate general, two Georgia governors, a member of Congress, a former astronaut and many other notables resting there, I would think it would be a great candidate for the honor.

Vince indicated he might retire from the city in a year or two. Our city leaders need to carefully select a candidate who shares Vince’s passion for this historic ground.

Zac Brown Band on Leno

The Zac Brown Band continues its incredible ride and will be on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" tonight (11:35 p.m. WXIA-11).

The band, with ties to Gainesville and Dahlonega, has just received certification that its first album, "The Foundation," has reached 500,000 in sales, making it a gold record.

Also this week, the band is up for another fan vote from USA Weekend. The competition is for best music video for their mega-hit "Chicken Fried."

Tonight, they are going to perform their follow-up single, "Whatever it is."

Paint the Town Purple

You’re likely to see purple ribbons throughout Gainesville this week as part of the American Cancer Society’s "Paint the Town Purple" event. Today, many shops and restaurants are donating a portions of revenue to the Hall County Relay for Life, the giant fundraising event that takes place June 5 at Road Atlanta.

Poor Richard’s, Saul’s, Collegiate Grill, 2 Dog, Cafe N’ Crepes, Scott’s on the Square, Luna’s and Elmo’s Italian Kitchen among many others are participating.

A group of folks from The Times, including me, will be among the 121 teams participating in the Relay for Life. Several of us at the paper have experienced cancer within our families and want to do our part.

If you’d like to support us give me or Edie Rogers a call at 770-718-3421. You also can go to to donate through our team.,

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

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