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COLUMBUS, Ga. — From an explosion at a downtown recycling center shooting a fireball thousands of feet into the air as it shook houses throughout the city, to media outlets providing zero follow-up on the blast, to another fire at a separate waste management plant revealing a much larger chain of suspicious and timely events, here’s all the muck that’s fit to print from the Columbus, Georgia area, along with a look at what to expect in the week ahead.
EXPLOSION ROCKS COLUMBUS RECYCLING PLANT AMID CITY WASTE MANAGEMENT DEBATES
This story was first published September 18, 2023.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — A massive explosion felt and seen throughout the greater Chattahoochee Valley region shook south Columbus last night, shooting a bright-orange fireball and mushroom-shaped cloud thousands of feet into the air.
The explosion, as confirmed by Columbus Fire & EMS Chief Sal Scarpa, was sourced to have originated at the Radius Recycling Plant at about 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 17, 2023.
The privately-owned scrap metal collection & recycling facility is located at 420 10th Avenue in the city’s Seventh Council District.
The timing of the explosion coincides with a month-long debate between city officials surrounding the city’s waste management system and recycling centers, which began during the August 8 city council meeting.
The combustion explosion, characterized by its large bright-orange fireball rolling upwards away from the blast into a mushroom-shaped cloud, occurs when a hydrocarbon fuel is combined with an oxidizing agent like air and ignited while under pressure.
Though still unconfirmed by CFEMS, the explosion likely resulted from the ignition of a large propane tank or other hydrocarbon fuel source on-site of the recycling plant.
Explore the full story for the questionable details.
CPD INVITES COLUMBUS TO ANNUAL ‘FAITH & BLUE BIKE RIDE’ ON OCTOBER 6
This story was first published September 19, 2023.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — “Thus counterinsurgency is at heart an adaptation battle: a struggle to rapidly develop and learn new techniques and apply them in a fast-moving, high-threat environment, bringing them to bear before the enemy can evolve in response, and rapidly changing them as the environment shifts.” — David Kilcullen, Counterinsurgency.
The Columbus Police Department is inviting local residents to attend its third annual Faith & Blue Bike Ride on October 6, 2023.
The event is free and open to the public.
National Faith & Blue Weekend has helped build stronger community bridges between residents and their police forces throughout Georgia with the help of local faith-based organizations.
CPD will be kicking off that upcoming weekend by hosting an easy-going 5-mile bicycle ride throughout the downtown area for fellowship and fun.
Participants will have to provide their own bicycles, and helmets will be required.
Registration will take place at the Public Safety Building located at 510 10th Street at 5:30 p.m. just before the ride begins on October 6.
Explore the full story for the details along with how your organization can get involved.
LOCAL MEDIA & CCG SILENT AS EXPLOSION LEAVES MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS
This story was first published September 20, 2023.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — Local media outlets and the Columbus Consolidated Government have remained oddly silent after a massive explosion blew a fireball and mushroom cloud thousands of feet into the night sky above the Radius Recycling Plant on September 17.
The explosion just-so-happened to occur amid a month-long series of debates by city officials over the city’s waste management programs.
Not one single investigative story has been published regarding the explosion’s origin; not one follow-up has been published by local media sharing information they’ve gathered; not one single piece of communication has been issued under local government letterhead.
If you’re like us, you probably remember a time where an event like Sunday night’s explosion would be inescapable from the eyes and ears of the layman; there would be constant coverage through broadcast, print, and radio from any-and-every news outlet in the area.
When a recycling center suddenly explodes spewing a rolling mushroom cloud thousands of feet into the air as it literally shakes everyone’s house for miles, most would expect constant coverage from the city’s “leading” news outlets — both objectively and speculatively.
No such coverage from local media outlets exists as of the time of this article’s publication. No interview has been held with fire officials in the days after the explosion. No camera crew documented a reporter knocking on the door of Radius Recycling looking for answers. No emails have been published showing news outlets demanding answers from local officials.
The apathy is abhorrently pathetic.
The absence of such reporting — the silence of local media and governmental communication alike — speaks louder than anything else.
Explore the full story to see how loud that silence actually is.
BUSTED: COLUMBUS GOV’T DELETED COMMENTS & CENSORED UNWANTED SPEECH
This story was first published December 19, 2022 and was republished September 21, 2023.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — “Without freedom of thought, there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin, Letter from Silence Dogood No. 8, Printed in The New England Courant, July 9, 1722.
In what has become a pattern of behavior, the Columbus Consolidated Government deleted the Muckraker’s comments on one of its social media pages and then went on to block us from commenting in the future.
Governmental entities are prohibited by federal law from deleting or hiding legitimate comments from their social media pages, as their pages are considered a “designated public forum.” They are also barred from blocking or banning users. The right of the public to comment on governmental pages has most famously been affirmed in the landmark case of Davison v. Randall, as well as in the case of Knight v. Trump.
Nonetheless, several subordinate branches of the Columbus Consolidated Government have now done exactly that. When social media comments were critical of the Columbus Consolidated Government’s preferred narrative, the governmental pages have simply deleted them.
We recorded the entire exchange, struck back, and won.
Explore the full story to see how CCG already has a demonstrated track record of illegally censoring speech in violation of federal law, along with the photographic evidence they can’t avoid.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN APPLY TO SPEAK AT A CITY COUNCIL MEETING
This story was first published April 11, 2023 and republished September 22.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — “The true source of our sufferings has been our timidity.” — John Adams.
As most residents are acutely aware, the political state of the Fountain City has seen better days. Through violent gang-related crime, staggering rates of homelessness, and a poverty rate twice the national average, it is clear that we as a city have our work cut out for us.
Fortunately, the ideas for how to best address and fix these extremely-serious issues do not have to come from behind the bench of our city’s elected officials.
In fact, our city’s form of government strongly encourages you to take an active role in civic engagement by publicly speaking your mind on issues that are politically important to you.
During each regular meeting of the Columbus City Council, there is a section of the meeting called the Public Agenda.
It is incredibly easy to apply.
Explore the full story to see how easy it really is to voice your concerns during the public agenda of a city council meeting.
RECYCLING PLANT EXPLODED DAYS AFTER SEPARATE FIRE AT WASTE MANAGEMENT BUILDING
This story was first published September 23, 2023.
COLUMBUS, Ga. — The massive explosion at the Radius Recycling plant that rocked the Fountain city on September 17 occurred just ten days after a separate fire at the Waste Management building on Veterans Parkway.
The building at 2015 Veterans Parkway is owned and operated by Waste Management Solutions, headquartered in Houston, Texas.
The earlier fire at the WM transfer station occurred shortly before 1:00 p.m. on September 7, according to Fire Marshal and Division Chief John Shull.
Much like the explosion that happened ten days later at Radius Recycling on September 17, no cause has been determined nor released to the public.
The privately-owned WM facility serves as a transfer station, which is a temporary holding facility where waste goes to be sorted and then sent to a landfill or recycling facility.
Both the fire at the WM transfer station and the explosion at Radius Recycling occurred during a month-long debate by city officials regarding the city’s waste management programs.
During that lengthy debate, City Manager Isaiah Hugley has continued to combat city councilors by providing illogical reasons to expand the city’s recycling programs, which operate at a net loss of $772,000 each year.
There are three examples — all within the past few weeks — of events that all just-so-happen to divert waste back into city landfills. That increase of waste would increase stress on the city’s systems, which would in turn give Hugley leverage to seek more funding for the city’s recycling centers so he can “save the landfills” — all while suspicions arose over the recycling program’s underperforming revenue.
Two of those timely examples involved fire and explosions at waste management facilities within ten days of each other on September 7 and 17 respectively.
The third example involved a hasty request to suddenly cancel Amwaste’s $400k/month “contract” on September 12, right smack in the middle of the fire and explosion. To top that off, it turns out that the city manager’s office never even established a legitimate contract with Amwaste in the first place.
Explore the full story to see the questionable details as local media outlets and city officials continue to remain silent on the suspicious issue.
THE WEEK AHEAD
The Columbus City Council is scheduled to meet this Tuesday, September 26, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. on the second floor of the C. E. “Red” McDaniel City Services Center located at 3111 Citizens Way, Columbus, GA 31906.
Join Today. Protect Tomorrow
There has never been a better time to be a Columbus Police Officer! The Columbus Police Department is a state and nationally accredited law enforcement agency dedicated to protecting and serving the citizens of Columbus, Georgia. Become part of a highly trained law enforcement team focused on building and maintaining strong community partnerships that improve the safety and quality of life for every citizen. Join today and protect the promise of a better tomorrow. ProtectColumbus.com
A Look At Personal Safety
As the Columbus Police Department continues to unify under its new leadership model, violent crime is still likely to exist at higher levels than we would all like — even in what have previously been thought of as the “safer parts” of our city.
We at the Muckraker want to encourage our readers and their loved ones to remain hyper-vigilant as they go about their daily lives.
Based on lifetimes of experience and the combined professional careers of us at the Muckraker and our associates, here are what we consider to be the most important ways Columbusites can make themselves “hard targets” to avoid becoming a crime victim:
Situational Awareness: Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep your head on a swivel. Don’t walk around with headphones in. Keep your eyes moving and scanning around you as you move about.
Trust Your Gut: If something inside of you is telling you that something isn’t right, trust that feeling. For example: If you’re parking your car at night and your gut tells you the dark shady spot next to the alley isn't the best place to park, don't park there. Your intuition is often more powerful and protective than you think.
Move With Confidence: Think about this one for a minute. Are criminals going to target the guy or gal who struts hard down the street like a freaking lion patrolling their own domain, or are they going to leave that hard target the heck alone? Keep your head up. Move from place to place with a purpose. Don't walk around with your face in your phone with your purse wide open. Don’t look weak. Look dangerous.
Facts are stubborn things — and we’ll keep publishing them, whether city officials like them or not.
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