Living Columns & Blogs

Great way to kick off the new year!

With the help of a lot of good friends, this year is off to a great start! Marty and Elmo Koplin convinced some old college buddies that they were desperately needed at the Rose Bowl game which pitted the revered Georgia Bulldogs against the Oklahoma Sooners in Pasadena. Well, Sooners, Georgia did it sooner rather than later. Could not resist that pun – I will spare you the others that crossed my mind.

The running commentary on social media kept me in the loop; I had a front row seat to the Rose Bowl parade where Macon Cherry Blossom royalty, Sadie Frame, looked rosey in her lovely pink gown; everywhere you looked Maconites were partying in the finest establishments in Pasadena.

Among the Middle Georgians that took flight to California for the big throw down were Sheila and Bob Johnson, Chelle and Don Bailey, Cheri and Dick Frame, parents of Sadie, and the Koplins, Georgia’s No. 1 cheerleaders. Well, it worked — you may be hoarse, but Georgia is in the running for the national championship. Of course, the fact that Macon native, Meredith Hunnicut, was a member of the elite group of Georgia cheerleaders on the sidelines in Pasadena didn’t hurt.

On New Year’s Eve, there was a brief tutorial in wine tasting paired with a groaning board of good food, by expert Jeff Button, owner of the wine emporium, Off the Vine on Vineville Avenue. The next day promised an abundance of good luck for the new year because, thanks to southern cooking gourmand, Carol Martin, I had a sufficiency of black eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day, enough to keep me awake for the entire Rose Bowl game.

History is made in Milledgeville

On Friday, December 29, Mary Parham Copelan was sworn in, by Todd Blackwell, probate judge, as Milledgeville’s first female mayor in the town’s history. As the afternoon sun began to fall behind the government offices, the momentous ceremony was held on the steps of City Hall in front of friends, family and Milledgeville citizens who played a part in electing the new mayor who won by a razor thin margin.

Choristers from First Baptist Church of Byron and from the Hancock-Baldwin Community Choir opened the event with spirited hymns before Barry Jarrett, city manager, welcomed the crowd in the afternoon chill. The brief ceremony included reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Alderman Walter Reynolds from District 4, opening prayer by Nathaniel D. Snead Jr., pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in neighboring Sparta and closing prayer by Sherry Gaither, pastor from Stronghold Ministries in Lithonia.

John Barrow, former U.S. representative from the 12th District, attended the swearing in ceremony and briefly spoke to Copelan’s supporters about the historical significance of the new mayor being the first woman elected to that position. He also offered his assistance to the freshman politician in her new job for the next four years.

After the ceremony, a reception was held in council chambers of City Hall, after which guests were invited to the Old Capitol building, located in the center of the Georgia Military College campus, in the hall where Georgia’s legislators voted to secede from the union during the Civil War, in 1861. President of GMC, William B. Caldwell IV, Lieutenant General (retired), congratulated the mayor and welcomed the opportunity to work with her for the good of the city.

During the seated dinner, guests were entertained by Peter Gibson, vocalist and pastor of First Baptist Church of Byron. Guest speakers included Elaine Lucas, Macon-Bibb County commissioner for District 3 and Chalis Montgomery, a Democratic candidate for the state House of Representatives from District 10.

The irony of holding a dinner, to honor the new African-American mayor, in the hallowed halls of the former capital of Georgia, where the vote occurred for Georgia to secede from the Union, was embraced by the mayor and by her campaign manager, Quentin T. Howell, who commented on Copelan’s plans to “build bridges” of communication and of cooperation in bolstering the city’s economy and in preserving Milledgeville’s history.

It looks like 2018 is off to a promising start. Happy New Year!

Katherine Walden is a freelance writer and interior designer in Macon. Contact her at 478-742-2224 or