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July 16, 2009     The Tuskegee News
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-T Page A-4, The Tuskegee News, July 16, 2009 d Time for some progress at Washington Plaza We would love to see something come of--or come to--Washington Plaza. Anything at this point would be nice. Andevery investor on both the public and private side of the venture would like to see the same, we believe. The only information The Tuskegee News has received recently on Washington Plaza comes from Tuskegee City Manager Alfred Davis. Davis said the plaza's new owner, Bill Winston "Ministries, has a search party work- ing to fill the plaza's vacancies and it's difficult to doubt it's true. Winston and his Illinois-based empire spent millions of dollars purchasing and repairing the plaza. There's no way all that time and money will be considered a loss. What's disappointing for the city--also some- what of an investor in Washington Plaza--is that recruiting businesses, is "a business in itself and the city doesn't have a dime to spare at the moment. That being the case, its contri- butions end at the approximately $100,000 it spent to correct a drainage problem at the site. There's no way the city expects that to be a total loss either. The funds just aren't avail- able to hire a retail recruiter and may not be until Washington Plaza has more tenants. The city has been struggling to find revenue for many years and relies heavily on annual sales tax to support citizen needs. If large retail stores were to come into Washington Plaza the tax increase would result in a notable budget expansion and a little more wiggle room for Davis and the council. Davis said Winston needs an anchor store, or a larger chain that will bring smaller stores along to new locations. For instance, new Walmart stores usually have a tag-a'long like Hibbett Sports or Dollar Tree. Allegedly, Target had at one point agreed to serve as Washington Plaza's anchor store according to former Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford. But he announced the information dur- ing a local TV news broadcast and the unplanned and uninvited publigity reportedly changed Target's mind. That's the story anyway. Nothing was ever confirmed one way or the other, though. So is Ford to blame for the plaza's currently blank stare? Not likely, but then who is? That's a question that's been breeding wide speculation for more than two years now as the multi-million dollar plaza has supported only four tenants since it was refurbished. One thing is 'for certain, though--we were all wrong. No one expected a more than three- year window between the time Winston pur- chased the plaza and the time it would wel- come a new store. Let's hope for the investors' sake's--and that includes the citizens of Tuskegee--someone will see all the positive reasons to locate a retail chain in this community and open Washington Plaza for some new business. Letters to Editor Policy The Tuskegee News gladly accepts letters to the editor. Letters should be submitted to The Tuskegee News office by Friday prior to the next Thursday publication date: Letters must be signed and contain a contact phone number. Letters should also be typed dou- ble-spaced (non-italics). The Tuskegee News reserves the right to edit all letters for content and length. Noted in Passing First step on moon was special In the darkness of a Holiday Inn room in Lumberton, N.C. a black-and-white television screen flickered an image never before wtnessed by man. Neil Armstrong gingerly stepped onto the surface of the moon, the first man ever to do so. His words, "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" are immortalized for those who heard them live and for generations in the future. I was fascinated.by the event 40 years ago on July 20, 1969. Only a few hours earlier I was with hundreds of other future United States Army officers going through training at Fort Bragg, N.C. Someone at some level made the decision to give us a break from the six-week ROTC summer camp and thoughts of future duty in Vietnam to watch history being made. For me, it was a welcome oppor- tunity to capture history with my eyes and mind. For the three other officer candidates that piled into a car with me looking for the nearest motel away from Fort Bragg, the break was spent sleep- ing. That's exactly what they were doing as the historic moment arrived that night. No matter how hard I try, I can't understand how one would pass up an opportunity to wit- ness history in the making, even it was only a grainy picture on a black-and-white television. Maybe it's because I had just earned a degree in journalism with a minor in history that ingrained in my mind there was no way I was going to miss the first moon landing--especially after I had been freed from Fort Bragg for that opportunity. After all, it was journalism and history at their best. Having grown up in Pensacola, Fla, the site of U.S. Navy flight training for decades, I visited air- craft carriers where pilots prac- tice landings and takeoffs. I even played on a baseball team spon- sored by the famed Blue Angels Guy Rhodes Publisher who could do amazing things in the jets they flew. That was before some of the more flamboyant baseball uni- forms of the Houston Astros and Oakland Xs came along. They didn't have anything on us. We looked like softball players in the blue and gold colors of the Blue Angels we were issued. Even with the Naval flight school dominating the local mili- tary scene, I never developed an interest in flying. My father was a lieutenant in the 101st Airborne in World War II. He jumped out of airplanes, some- thing I never brought myself to do. I was content to stay on the ground as a transportation officer who spent much of my time mov- ing students from one place to another at the Mountain Ranger Camp in Dahlonega, Ga. Even though I wasn't into fly- rag, I was fascinated by NASA, astronauts and the whole space program. The firsttwo monkeys to survive a space flight for the United States were Able and Baker. They spent many years after their flight being studied and probed at Pensacola Naval Air Station where they were an ttraction for visitors. I distinctly remember when Alan Shepherd made his 45- minute sub-orbital flight along the coast of Florida to become the first American in space. At the time that seemed a little lame because the Russians had orbited earth several times for the Soviet Union's maiden flight. Of course, we don't know how many of their flights failed before the initial success. I still have a scrapbook with a front-page picture of John Glenn in the Pensacola News Journal after his return from a three-orbit flight, the first orbital journey by an American. One of the earlier capsules used by the U.S. space program is on display at the Flight NIuseum at Pensacola Naval Base. It's amazing the pio- neering astronauts fl, ew in those small machines. My grandmother died at age 99 in the mid-1980s. I recall watch- ing a moon landing with her. Talk about history. There were no automobiles when she was grow- ing up and there she was watcli- ing a man land on the moon. I was proud of John Glenn for his exploits and later when my fellow Auburn University alum- nus Ken Mattingly, Hank Harts field, Jim Voss and Kathryn Thornton were pilots or crew members on Shuttle flights were sometimes awakened to 'WVar Eagle." On a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, I became very emo- tional in viewing the Challenger Shuttle memorial to those who died on takeoff. The day the Challenger blew up moments after takeoff I was a few miles away on sparkling cloudless sky day at a seminar in Tampa. When I was at the White House for the Tuskegee Syphilis Apology in the late 1990s, a group of dig- nitaries climbed up a private stairway as we were entering the East Room for the ceremony I recognized the U.S. Senator standing about eye-to-eye next to me. It was John Glenn, to me an American hero and one of the faces of the U.S, space program. I'm 'sure he remembers where he was when Neff Armstrong first stepped on the moon. I'm also sure it was nicer than a motel room in Lumberton, N.C. One thing we do have in common is sharing the moment. At least I didn't sleep through the whole thing. Guy Rhodes is editor and pub- fisher of The Tuskegee News. He can be reached at guynrhodes@beflsouth.net i Serving Macon County Since 1865 The Tuskegee News (ISSN: 644480) is published week- ly by Tuskegee Newspapers, Inc. 103 S. Main Street, Tuskegee, Alabama, 36083. Phone (334) 727"3020. Send E-Mail to tuskegeenews@beUsouth.net Second Class Postage paid at Tuskegee, Alabama. POSTMAS- TER -- send address changes to The Tuskegee News, 103 S. Main Street, Tuskegee, Alabama, 36083. This newspaper is printed on 100 percent recycled paper to aid in the nation's conservation efforts. Subscription rate in Macon County, $30 per year, outside of Macon County, $37 per year, outside state of Alabama, $42 per year. Paul R. Davis, President/Owner Gayle Davis, Vice President/lXreasurer. Guy Rhodes, Publisher/Editor Scott Richardson, Assistant to the Publisher Jeff Thompson, Managing Editor Jacquelyn Carlisle, Community NeWs Editor SCOTT STANllS . . .