published Saturday, February 8th, 2014

Pam's Points: Happy birthday, G.I. Joe, and other irritations

The aging of a soldier

Say it ain't so, G.I. Joe. Surely you can't be the big 5-0 — a half-century old.

But that's what the headlines say on the story about the first doll -- er "action figure" -- for boys.

Joe, who really never hit it off with Barbie -- because Ken was much more cerebral and she didn't like guns -- was born to the toy world in 1964, just before America plunged into the Vietnam War. By the late '60s, war-weary parents were leaving the war toys, and Joe with his guns, on the shelf.

Joe's creator, Hasbro, reinvented him in the 1970s as "Adventure Team" G.I. Joe. A decade later, the company tweaked him again, this time shrinking him from 12 inches to 3 1/2 inches -- the same size as Star Wars figures.

Ken, though now graying, still can't stop himself from smirking.

McKamey and Chattanooga disconnect

Pet owners who lost their furry loved ones in recent weeks no doubt shed new tears Thursday to learn that Spot or Fluffy may now be in the city landfill. And not as cremated ashes, as local vets and pet owners expected.

Without warning, Chattanooga public works officials decided the $3,000 a year the city has paid McKamey Animal Center since 2010 for pet cremations was too much.

The city had begun using McKamey's $50,000 crematorium specifically to keep dead animals out of the landfill. About seven veterinary hospitals and clinics pay Chattanooga a quarterly fee of $208 for city pick-up service of deceased animals. The city kept 10 percent and paid McKamey the rest in quarterly payments for the crematory service. In 2013, the public works department picked up nearly 500 dead animals from the area hospitals and 960 dead animals upon calls for service. McKamey officials said the center received about $3,000.

Clearly this was not a break-even enterprise for the city, which also contributes $1.5 million a year to McKamey to handle city animal control services. But last month when the Public Works Department changed the policy, department officials overlooked telling McKamey or even the veterinarians the city had worked with, said Public Works Deputy Administrator Justin Holland. Holland offered a public apology.

Since the headlines, the city is again -- at least temporarily -- taking dead animals to McKamey for cremation.

Whatever the disconnect may have been -- and certainly there have been many between McKamey and the city in recent months (the city currently is auditing McKamey) -- it's time to mend fences and get things worked out. Long-term.

Sanitary landfill space is no place for dead animals. And certainly not for pets.

Wicked weather planning

Poor, Atlanta. First Georgia's largest city, like most of the mid-South, didn't get a warning -- or salted roads -- last week when snow left thousands stranded on North Georgia interstates-turned-parking-lots.

Then a week later on Wednesday and Thursday, with no wintry cataclysms in the forecast, giant message boards over freeways there warned skittish drivers of a winter storm watch that didn't exist.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, just days after apologizing for the first foul-up of slow emergency reaction, suddenly had to have state officials apologize again -- this time to say they overreacted to information from federal forecasters and then posted incorrect information on the automated highway signs. The signs flashed late Wednesday and into early Thursday, but the National Weather Service had issued no such watch.

Don't worry, Atlanta. Things aren't as bad as they may seem. After all, Georgia isn't New Jersey, right?

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